You may have heard of it. You may have participated in it. You may be wondering what the heck I am talking about. NaNoWriMo.
National Novel Writing Month. Well, it’s an international thing, and novel ends up being taken pretty loosely… but it is definitely a writing month. Happening in November every year, NaNoWriMo is a way to get started on writing. Useful for someone who does a lot of writing, or for someone just getting into writing, or someone who always wanted to write… Basically, it’s a great idea.
This is just a bit of an explanation of NaNoWriMo, so that if you, or someone you know if doing NaNoWriMo you know what’s going on. And, if you’re considering doing NaNoWriMo yourself… it’s a little late to get going, but early enough in the month if you put a lot of time in, you could do it! And of course, some of my thoughts as someone who’s done NaNoWriMo, and is doing it this year.
So You’re Writing a Novel…
NaNoWriMo is maybe the most important thing for anyone who has thought of writing a story: NaNoWriMo is a reason to get started. There is usually a feeling that there is more preparation that can be done, more world-building, more outlining, character building, what have you. Writer’s care about the stories they write, and want them to be good. There is a tendency to – even once something is written – edit it a lot.
NaNoWriMo is about the writing removing themselves from these processes, from the process of planning, and from the process of editing. Instead, it’s all about the writing. It’s about diving in, starting from the beginning, and writing the story. Getting words on the page. Taking the blank page, and filling it.
NaNoWriMo is simple: 50,000 words in 30 days. The math works out quite simply to 1667 words a day. Which, given that is about the length of some of our longer blog posts, is a sort I was already writing, and gives a bit of a sense of how much that is.
It’s also a discipline of writing: of writing every day, of getting the ideas out and letting the other things matter later. But it requires effort on the part of the writer, and dedication. Many people try this, and not nearly so many succeed.
So if you are trying this, just keep at it! When I did this before, I ended up 10,000 words shy on November 30 – and sat down, and wrote 10,000 words! It can be done. But it’s so much easier to keep up every day, and especially to at least get something written every day. Coming back from 0 for a day is not easy. And find someone else to compete with, and support: try to get both of you to complete!
If someone you know is doing NaNoWriMo, give them support! If they are taking their time to write for the day, give them their time! This is often not part of the normal day, not before, and sometimes not after. But during this time, the writer is taking nothing and turning it into something. And that’s really something.
My Experience with NaNoWriMo
So I mentioned my 10,000 words in a day mad-dash to the end… And that competing with someone is a good idea… These things are interesting parts of the experience.
But another, major takeaway is just the feeling – more than that, the knowledge – that you are a writer. That you have accomplished a major writing task. That you have built a story.
They have a lot of advice on the NaNoWriMo FAQ page, but one piece is interesting: they recommend starting a fresh manuscript. Not one that you are partway into, I imagine because the urge to edit will be too great, the need to work back and match what you are already writing.
Because that’s what hit me after the last time I completed NaNoWriMo. I liked what I had, but there were some definite deficiencies. I had a world I understood, a few characters, but it was a bit shallow. Needed more characters. More happening. So from doing NaNoWriMo ten years ago, I have been building a world, creating characters, nailing down a plot.
From there, I am first doing an outline, and including this in my word count. Why not? In the end, one of the most important things to know about NaNoWriMo is that it’s for you. The writer. From the point of having a solid outline, I plan to keep going from there to start writing the story.
I am using this year’s NaNoWriMo to do more than just end up with a written product. One of the main things I wanted from Comparative Geeks in the first place was an excuse to write, to rebuild my discipline of writing. From there, NaNoWriMo will hopefully help get me writing daily – not just every-other-day like for the blog.
So if I am using it for the discipline, I have so far been including my blog posts in my word count. Because I don’t want the blog to be replaced by NaNoWriMo – I want Comparative Geeks to keep going, while otherwise increasing my writing.
Alright, so that is my report on NaNoWriMo! You can find me on their site as Thropin – main character from my first NaNoWriMo Novel. Feel free to look me up! Meanwhile, keep writing, and let me know if you think I left anything out – or if you have any questions – in the comments below!