Saturday, October 1, 2011

Why You Should Do NaNoWriMo

It's October 1st. That means two important things.

1. It's my birthday. I'm nineteen today. I guess I'll have to change the name of this blog in a year ...
2. There's only one month until NaNoWriMo.

I expect that #2 causes a variety of reactions:

--> Haha ... What?

If you had the third reaction, I'm here to explain.

NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo takes place every year during November. During this month, writers take on the challenge to write at least the first 50,000 words of a novel, from scratch, in a month. You're not allowed to start until 12:00 AM on November 1st, except for outlining and other planning. It's okay if you don't finish the novel by the end of the month ... You just have to hit the 50,000-word mark before 12:00 AM on December 1st. If you get there, you win! (Side note: I've had to explain this to a lot of people but NaNoWriMo is not a contest. It's a challenge. There are perks to participating and to winning, but no one judges your work. It's all about writing those 50,000 words.) For more detailed rules, visit the NaNoWriMo website.


1. 50,000 looks like a pretty intimidating number, but it's not as bad as you may think. It's 1,667 words a day, which is about two and a half pages. That might still seem like a lot, but you'll be surprised by how the words add up when you really get into writing something, or when you're writing whenever you have a spare moment. I usually write first thing in the morning and right before I go to bed, and at random times during the day if I have time. If you disperse those words throughout the day, they'll add up quickly.

2. Like I said, there are perks. For example, if you win, you can get a free proof copy of your manuscript from CreateSpace. Here is me with my lovely CreateSpace proof of Walking Shadow:

Last year, programs such as Scrivener and Storyist––which are programs designed specifically for writers––provided free trials for NaNo participants. I don't know if the same exact thing is happening this year, but I know there are always benefits to participating! If anything, you'll at least get the bragging rights if you win. ;) So, it's worth checking out.

3. You learn to write without inhibitions. When you're concentrating on getting the words down, you focus less on editing and censoring yourself, and you'll be surprised at what you'll come up with. Yes, you'll write a lot of filler crap––but some of that filler will still have useful descriptions or ideas in it. It doesn't matter if your first draft is a piece of junk; that's what editing is for, and you can edit later. NaNo is about getting out that first draft, however crappy it may be. When you have a first draft, you at least have an idea of what you're working with.

4. Best-selling novels have been born during NaNoWriMo. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins are all examples. So even if the rough draft you write during NaNo is very ... well, rough, you know you have the potential to sell it someday!

5. Because I said so.

So, what are you doing? Get planning, you fools!