November is NaNoWriMo month!
For those of you not in the know, NaNoWriMo stands for national novel writing month. That’s right, a whole month dedicated to churning out that novel you’ve had floating around inside your head for years. Who could ask for anything more!
Now for those of you who think this is a nebulous thing type of thing, like Valentine’s day or something, it’s not. NaNoWriMo is real. It’s got its own website, a whole set of rules, forums, and an engaged and seriously committed community.
How does it work?
After signing up at nanowrimo.org, you have 30 days, November 1st to 30th, to compose a 50,000-word manuscript (that’s 1,667 words a day for all of you math nerds). Sometime before midnight on November 30th, you upload your 50,000 mess of a manuscript into the high-tech online word counter. And if you make the cut, you win!
You feel a deep sense of accomplishment, and get to gladly sport the coveted badge awarded to you by the fine people that run the website.
So what do you write about? Who knows. What those 50,000 words are about is relatively insignificant. I mean, it should probably be a novel so as to capture the spirit of the whole thing. But really, it’s mostly about the word count.
Honestly, what comes out at the other end will probably be far from that completed artistic vision you had hoped for. But you know what, it’s also way past a good start. I mean, it’s the first 200 pages of your new book.
Sound like fun! Still on the fence? As a 3-time winner of NaNoWriMo, let me give you my top 3 reasons for participating in this fun-filled month of frustration and typing.
1) The Habit
Fifty thousand words in a month is no small feat! It’s certainly not something that you cram through at the last minute (well, maybe you can, I don’t know you). To that end, the greatest gift of NaNoWriMo is the manner it forces you to engage in a creative act in a consistent manner.
And for all of you budding writers out there, I’m here to tell you that the true power is in artistic vision, it’s in the development of craft. Nothing hones that craft faster than consistent and regular work.
In fact, if I had to stake out a single point of value for participating, it would be experiencing the amazement you’ll undoubtedly feel as your story deepens and unfolds and your writing sings truer with each passing day of work.
There is no substitute for sustained and consistent work, and the pay off is substantial. Unfortunately, there’s only one way to find this out.
2) The People
There’s no better place to meet like-minded writers and budding novelists than the NaNoWriMo forums. In fact, delegates across the country regularly set up meet-ups and write-ins where you can get together with your fellow writers in your region. Who knows, maybe you’ll develop some great partnerships that extend beyond the month. Maybe you’ll make some friends. Really, it never hurts to find someone who will read that pile of words you call a book and give you informed criticism.
Besides from actually meeting people, it’s just exciting and educational to listen to so many people talk about their journey crafting this albatross.
And of course, there are the ultramarathoners. Those writers that seem to crank out 40,000 words in a day. So just in case you were feeling overwhelmed you can substitute that with a steady course of guilt and inferiority.
3) The Prizes
“Winning” NaNoWriMo is primarily about personal edification, But, if that’s not enough for you…for those that pass the 50,000-word mark and can prove it via the high-tech NaNoWriMo word counter, there are some neat goodies you can pick up at a discount from the sponsors.
For example, I picked up a copy of Scrivener for half off a few years back, which is a pretty sweet writing platform tool.
Check out the sponsor page, and see what they got. It might help some of you that are less intrinsically motivated.
Tomorrow is November! (today is Halloween(boo!)) Challenge yourself by going to the NaNoWriMo website and signing up. More importantly, hold yourself accountable for that hideous glob of 50,000 words. What’s the worst that could happen?
And if you’re reading this sometime in April? Well, still give it a go! Set aside 30 days and get to writing!
Who knows, it might be the start of something bigger.