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!


  1. The second reason is why I'm considering NaNo this year but I've got a very busy college schedule so I may not be able to.

    Happy 19th Birthday!

    How long have you done NaNo for?

  2. I'm also very busy at college, but I plan on at least trying anyway. :)


    I've been doing NaNo since I was 14, but the first two times I did it were utter fails. I've won the past three years, though.

  3. Happy Birthday! Today is my parent's wedding anniversary, 28 years and my sister's birthday is in two days. I know... she was born 3 years and 2 days after they got married, lol.

    I was just considering doing NaNoWriMo or not and I can't seem to decide. I've done it three times (2008, 2009, 2010) but I'm not sure that I'll have the time or emotionally capability to do it next month. Maybe. :)

  4. I'm going to try finishing up all my college apps before then so I can do NaNoWriMo. If not, well... ):

  5. I've been doing NaNoWriMo for years, and I didn't know about the free stuff like CreateSpace. Thanks for the tip!

  6. I might try but November is usually when we have university interviews and they can take up a healthy chunk of your time.

    That's an awesome cover btw!

  7. Happy Birthday! I don't think I'll be able to do NaNoWriMo this year, but I'm determined to do it at least once. It's definitely a fantastic opportunity and not only do you come out with most of a first draft at the end of it, but I mean...prizes.

    Anyway, Happy Birthday again and good luck!

  8. Oo, happy late birthday!

    I'm very excited for NaNoWriMo; this'll be my third year. ^_^ I'm also glad to be finishing off the trilogy I started...haha. I didn't mean for it to explode into such a big project, but it just happened. It's been nice because it means I know what I'm writing this year, but I am also a bit tired of the But anyways, good luck to you (though I'm sure you won't need it :P)!

    And also I really like your cover. :D Very snazzy.

  9. "YAAAYYYY!"

    I'm so friggin excited! I got my new notebook (for planning) my 2nd new notebook (for the novel) and my special pen (it's pink and purple and came from a car dealership and is the most amazing clicky pen in the world and I'm going to be very sad when it stops working...)

    But happy belated birthday!

  10. I know I want to, but I just don't have the time this month. I can do a Nano in a different month, right?

    Thanks for your awesome post! :)

  11. Great post! I came over from the NaNoWriMo forum. :)

  12. WHOA, WHAT? YOU'RE DOING NANOWRIMO TOO? What a coincidence.
    Just kidding, I found you from the NaNo forums :D
    Hi. I'm Gabi.
    Good post!

  13. Wow! Thanks for this :) I've been trying to work out WTF it is for the past month and now I know! I may just have to participate next year (especially now that I know it's not a contest)


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