Are you ready for this?
Poise your pens and keyboards because November first is around the corner. Writers everywhere are already nodding along with me. Know why? Because it means National Novel Writing Month is finally (almost) here!
If you don’t know what it is already, National Novel Writing Month—or NaNoWriMo as writers so lovingly (hatingly) call it—is when crazy writers across the globe get together to write an entire novel in one month.
Yes, you read that right. An entire novel. In one month.
Writers are prepping their outlines (or not) and getting serious (or silly) for the launch date next month.
Are you crazy enough to join them?
Right now at NaNoWriMo you can create your novel page, earn badges, get inspired, tap other writers for help, and get swag to show your writer spirit.
That’s exciting, right? Writing a novel in 30 days. Who doesn’t want to finish their novel?
But NaNoWriMo isn’t really about writing novels. Because if it were we wouldn’t need NaNoWriMo in the first place. Everyone would finish the novels they’ve dreamed about without help, on their own. And 50 thousand words, while it’s nothing to scoff at, isn’t a whole novel anyway.
So if it isn’t about novels, what is NaNoWriMo really about?
I’m glad you asked.
What National Novel Writing Month is Really About
NaNoWriMo Gets Your Head Right
You know what I mean when I say it gets your head right, right?
NaNoWriMo clears the brain clutter. You know that nasty writer’s block feeling? When you’re staring at a blank page and you don’t know what to write? NaNoWriMo scales that challenge like a ferret on speed.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the nebulous task of writing a novel. But that’s the problem. Too many writers look at novel writing like it’s a single task. When really, it’s a series of little tasks. And NaNoWriMo makes that clear from the start.
With NaNoWriMo, you don’t just write a novel. First you prep for your novel in October. Then you write, write, write through the creative stage of November. And only then do you invite your editor voice to the party to revise your story in December.
Doesn’t that make more sense? NaNoWriMo keeps the writing stages distinct. Which makes it easy to write with abandon in November. And that just means you’re more likely to finish.
NaNoWriMo gets your head in the game, clearing away the blocks before they have a chance to start.
NaNoWriMo Forums: A Bottomless Resource of Human Experience
Want to know what it’s like to ride a tiger? Or the stages of decomp after death? Visit the NaNoWriMo forums, where writers pool their collective knowledge into a single resource for your next novel.
Writers of NaNoWriMo come from myriad backgrounds, which makes them a limitless resource to tap for your plotline. Cops, agents, kids, parents, baristas, doctors—all ready to share their insights and experiences.
They say to write what you know, but with the NaNoWriMo forums in your back pocket, you can write whatever you want.
Of course, they’re not the only writer resource for dazzling story detail.
NaNoWriMo is About Motivation
This may be an obvious one, but it matters. Motivation is key to writing a novel. And since writing can be such a lonely endeavor, its easy to quit when the obstacles pile up. Because who would know?
But with NaNoWriMo, you get accountability. Deadlines, pep talks from famous authors, writing inspiration, resources, and word count trackers that make it easy to stay on track.
NaNoWriMo Is About Camaraderie
Writers usually have to go this writing thing alone. And sometimes that sucks. Mostly because no one else gets why you’re spending so much time typing away on a keyboard.
Sure, other writers may get why you do what you do. But they’re off somewhere alone, writing their own work in progress.
Except in November.
Now you can link up with other wrimos in your region. Because no matter where you live, you’ll likely find a group of writers as crazy as you are. And that’s pretty cool if you ask me.
Plus you can add an accountability partner, link up with writing buddies, attend local write-ins and events, and generally hobnob with other writers looking to take a break from their word counts.
You Get Loot For Winning NaNoWriMo
That’s right. NaNoWriMo winners get free shit. And discounts on cool shit. Like free copies of your book in paperback and writing software. I love me some NaNoWriMo loot.
They also have cool NaNoWriMo swag to show your wrimo spirit (funds go to charity and to help keep Nanowrimo active).
After all that, does finishing your novel feel like an afterthought? Nah, I didn’t think so. That’s why your grand prize at the end of Nanowrimo is the 50k words you have of your novel. And, really, that’s a pretty solid step in the right direction.
How much more experienced you’ll be after November, writer. And how much closer to finishing your work in progress.
T-minus 7days. Are you ready?
Joan Lindsay Kerr says
Good post…but HA!…I can’t even keep up with my A to Z blogging, much less taking on a novel! I truly admire those of you who take on this challenge. Maybe some day when I’m not still absorbed with educational organizations and traveling and grandchildren. (Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to have an idea for a story!)
Seriously, Mandy, your posts are amazing. You should do a talk for WOK on how to create an interesting blog!
Terry Redman says
Free shit? I don’t remember that. I do have a cool mug for finishing one year, maybe 50,123 words or so.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA are about 50,000 words or less. Decent enough novels for most readers.
Point taken about the Nano…. being a starting point. From that orgy of words spilled into computers have grown more serious works. In WOK we have plans to use the NaNo story as a basis for rewrites and editing.
OBTW: A killer poster! ATTA GIRL!
Annis Cassells says
Loved this blog, Mandy. You are right on target about the benefits of NaNoWriMo. That said, I know I don’t have the idea or the stamina for a novel. But, I am ready to cheer on the folks who do and those who take part in NaNoWriMo. Way to go!
Loved, “like a ferret on speed.” xoA
Donnee Harris says
Very great article. This is my first time and I cannot Wait.
Jasmine Lowe says
I was thinking about finally doing NaNoWriMo this year. I was a little nervous about finding time to write and completing the challenge, but after reading your post I’m thinking I should just dive right in an do it.
Thanks for your post.
The Real Cie says
I fully support NaNo and anyone who does it, but I’ve tried it three times and each time I ended up with a steaming pile of crap in my lap that I didn’t want to even attempt to edit many years later. I write something every day, but I don’t like what comes out when writing NaNo style. I destroy the idea I started with writing that way.
Mandy Wallace says
If you write well without NaNo, more power to you, Cie. The point of NaNoWriMo, I think, is to break the perfectionist cycle that keeps promising writers from getting out the crap before they can write the gold. It’s a noble mission. And it doesn’t work for everyone. Glad you’ve got a firm hold on your process.
This is exactly what NaNoWriMo is about. What I love the most, is the camaraderie, doing this thing together knowing exactly what the other are going through. It’s a big boost for a writer, because we all tend to think at writing as a lonely activity. It doesn’t necessarily have to be.
I have anew project this year. Let’s see how it goes 🙂
Mandy Wallace says
It does help going it with other writers. Good luck with your Nano novel this year!
Sean K says
I am late to the party, and I did NaNoWriMo in November 2020. It was a beast. But I kicked it’s butt. My wife said I was almost unlivable, but she let me do it. It was crazy. Been pounding away ever since. I have not entered again, simply because it was hard, I was laser focused and a lot happened that I missed. If I do it again, it will be when I have this career going full time!