WHY EVERY WRITER SHOULD DO NaNoWriMo—AND WHY THEY SHOULDN’T

It’s nearly November,

…also known to writers and would-be writers as NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. While others will be frolicking in the golden leaves and readying for the holidays, a few of us will be hiding at our workstations, in our offices, or at the kitchen table frantically typing our requisite 50,000 words.

What the *bleep* is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is best known for its annual creative writing event in which participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript in just one month. Writing so much so fast does not come naturally to many of us, but it can be a useful experience. It forces the writer to get their head out of editing mode and focus on the story progression. No, you won’t end up in December with a fully-fledged and salable novel, but then even the most meticulous self-editors don’t a first draft.

NaNoWriMo taught me…

I’ve only done NaNoWriMo once, a fantasy novel/memoir I called CatWoman: A Journey. I was working full-time as a medical scanner at the time and have no idea how I succeeded to write CatWoman on top of that, but I did. I was driven by the story, which is a normal process for me, but because I only had one month to get everything down from beginning to end, I had to write at warp speed. This method had the side effect of producing an almost ethereal consciousness of plot. I was constantly barraged by inspiration, thoughts from far outside the box. Unquestioning, I wrote them, and CatWoman turned into a thing of terrible beauty.

Still, there was a point at the beginning where I nearly gave up. The pace was grueling, and I was certain that when I finished and read it over, it would be no good. Would I ever recover from writing a novel of shit? Could I trust myself to start a new story after doing such a bad job with this one?

I could have listened to that inner voice and saved myself a lot of time and trouble, but then CatWoman would never have matured. To have written it any other way, it would not have been the same. Though I have yet, some years later, to revise CatWoman: A Journey into a real book, I was happy with my result. To note, I’ve not been tempted to do NaNo again.

So if you are ready to test yourself in a new way, to dive into the unknown, to take a chance on failure as well as success, get ready to roll November 1st.

If you feel at all fragile or like your writing self can’t gamble on something absurd, you might want to wait. There will be another chance—after all, November, and NaNoWriMo, comes around every year.

From the NaNoWriMo Website:

“Every story matters. Let’s start writing yours.

Writing a novel alone can be difficult, even for seasoned writers. NaNoWriMo helps you track your progress, set milestones, connect with other writers in a vast community, and participate in events that are designed to make sure you finish your novel. Oh, and best of all, it’s free!”

Resources:

NaNoWriMo Website: https://nanowrimo.org/

NaNoWriMo Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/nanowrimo/

NaNoWriMo on Twitter: @NaNoWriMo

From Wikipedia:

“National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo, is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that promotes creative writing around the world. Its flagship program is an annual, international creative writing event in which participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript during the month of November. Well-known authors write “pep-talks” in order to motivate participants during the month. The website provides participants, called “Wrimos”, with tips for writer’s block, information on where local participants are meeting, and an online community of support. Focusing on the length of a work rather than the quality, writers are encouraged to finish their first draft quickly so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion. The project started in July 1999 with 21 participants. In 2019, 455,080 participated in the organization’s programs.”

 

 

 

About Mollie Hunt

Loves cats. Writes books.
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4 Responses to WHY EVERY WRITER SHOULD DO NaNoWriMo—AND WHY THEY SHOULDN’T

  1. Brian says:

    I know I’ve said it before, but I really admire writers, seems like I get distracted too easily!

  2. I started writing my first novel in November 2000. The first Nanowrimo was in 1999, but I hadn’t heard of it then. November is a great month for writing. Darkness comes early and lingers late, so one isn’t tempted to go out in the garden, for example. And the “holiday season” is still some distance away. That said, I doubt if I’ll ever sign up for Nanowrimo. I’m not a joiner, and even though there’s no pressure, I would find the time limit paralyzingly stressful. Right now I’m in the middle of a first edit of a novel I wrote from last December to the end of June, at a glacial 500 words per day.

    • Mollie Hunt says:

      Nano doesn’t require much joining, aside from filling in your wordcount whenever you want to. There are all sorts of activities, none of which I participated in. I write alone and that’s that. I wouldn’t have done it, but once I got the idea for my story, it was so compelling to me, I couldn’t say no. And as for normal daily goals, I never set any. Sometimes one sentence will that a whole space of time.

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