If the title made you go “Huh?”, you should read this first part. If, however, your reaction was closer to “Oh yes, finally!” (or “Oh no, not again!”), you can skip the introduction and scroll down until you find the NaNoWriMo-winner badge.
The what? National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, is an international event held every November, during which you’re supposed to write 50,000 words. They also host other events, such as Camps, and they have a special program for young writers, but I’m not going to talk about those because I’ve never participated in them.
But why? Because it’s so much fun! There’s a whole community of writers of all backgrounds, so whatever your situation might be, you’ll fit in nicely. Whether you write novels, poems, fanfiction, sci-fi, romance…. any genre, any form, anywhere, you’ll find someone else doing the exact same thing.
The word count might seem too high for someone and too low for others, but in my opinion, it’s the perfect amount. Clearly others agree since it’s the official number, but you don’t have to abide by it: even though you need 50k to be an official winner, you can set your own goals and target 20k or even 200k! Freedom is the best part, but more on that later.
The whole thing is more about quantity than quality, as you’re not encouraged (actually, you’re almost forbidden) to edit at all during those 30 days. Sounds tough? It is, but it’s also extremely rewarding. If it sounds easy, good for you! No matter your answer, now is the perfect time to sign up and start planning your this year’s novel!
NaNo & Me: Wohoo, I’m a winner! I promise I didn’t just steal it from the site. To check for yourselves, you can find me on the site as Radar235. You’ll see that my novels from 2013 and 2011 are listed as winners, as I hit the word target. But I’ve also lost. In fact, I’ve lost more NaNos than I’ve finished, as the score is 2 wins, 3 losses. I participated unofficially for the first two years so those novels don’t show up on the site.
If you’re wondering why I keep doing it even though I’ve lost more than won, you’re thinking about it all wrong. Even if I don’t win, I have an incredible time planning, writing what little I manage to do, and browsing the forums, hearing from other people who are struggling as well. The community aspect is amazing and the main reason I will try again this year.
In my previous post I mentioned two novels I’ve finished. Surprise, surprise, I was talking about my NaNo novels! The one I’m currently getting ready to publish is called Might of Dragons on the website, but the name has since changed and it has gone through a giant editing process.
I love the freedom. It’s an event with a goal, but really, you make the rules. You decide what/when/where/how you write. Most people try to get 1,667 words every day, so you’ll hit 50k right at the end of the month, but if you prefer to write +11k words on a Sunday and nothing on Monday – Friday, go for it! It’s all about having fun while creating something new.
As I mentioned above, you shouldn’t edit during NaNo. Editing and inner criticism should take a vacation for the whole month; otherwise, you run the risk of getting stuck. You might not (okay, will not) like everything you write but at the end of the month, you’ll probably be surprised by how much good stuff you’ve managed to do. At least I was, with all the five stories!
By the time the novel is over, I’ve forgotten half of what I’ve written. Then I give the story a little rest, like a few weeks, and read it over. Some parts are weak, some parts suck, but some parts are better than the stuff I usually write without the need to focus on quantity. In any case, it’s always a bit of a surprise to go back and see what I’ve actually created.
Obviously not many people can type out a publishable novel in 30 days, and it’s not the goal. Editing comes later, the NaNo novel is just the first draft. That’s why you shouldn’t worry about the quality: it can all be fixed later!
NaNo 2014: The NaNo forums are currently beeing sweeped for NaNo 2014 (meaning they’re deleting everything from last year), and once they’re done, you can enter your novel for this year and really start planning. Or just waiting, as you don’t even have to plan. You can just wing it! I haven’t quite decided what I’ll be writing, but I’ll definitely be participating and blogging about it.
To sum up: If you’re not signed up for NaNo yet, go do it! Don’t think about whether you can do it or whether you’re a good writer, just go for it. You can’t lose anything as it’s free, but you can gain so much by participating and having fun (or alternatively complaining with others). You can also gain great writing programs, or free copies of your finished novel, or a publishing contract… but those are something you’ll have to find out for yourself.
PS. Extra-Super-Special Bonus Inspiration Tip!
Yup, that’s what I did today for about 45 minutes when I was supposed to be creative and come up with ideas: I filled a post-it note with dots. And, believe it or not, it actually helped! I managed to get new ideas, even to the point where people around me noticed I was talking way more than usual. So yeah, remember dots!