It’s not too late, you can still join in NaNoWriMo, by signing up to nanowrimo.org
Not sure what it is? Not sure why you should do it? Are there good reasons to do your own thing? Read on:
What is NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo is a competition that’s been around for two decades now, it’s a drive to get people writing. It’s a competition not against the thousands that take part, but a challenge for you to try and complete, and celebrate with others that win.
The challenge is simple, a story of 50,000 words written in November. This equates to 1,667 words a day – that’s not so scary. Everyone has a good story in them, something they want to explore and this is an impetus to do just that.
I’m taking part in my 11th NaNoWriMo this year (2019), and I’ve got five wins and five losses under my belt. You are writing around your life, your job, your kids, and every other obstacle that comes up. Some people have a dozen or more victories under the belt, but it’s about trying. Yes there’s a lot of celebration for doing, but there’s a lot of community and heart in trying to get there.
So, NaNoWriMo is a communal challenge to try and see what the story inside is when it comes out on the page. It’s no more complicated than that.
Why should you do it?
- If you’ve ever struggled to write, but know you had something to say, here’s your chance, your excuse, permission to leave the doubts behind. Just go and hope for the best, literary abandon awaits you – and who knows what you’ll have out the other side
- It can help teach discipline, if you’re like me you have an on and off again relationship with writing, you can build a daily writing habit. There’s no reason to stop doing 1,667 words at the end of the month, you can keep going on the same story, on a new story. Maybe once you’ve found it fits, an hour or two is something you can spare
- Already writing, but keep getting struck down by writer’s block? NaNoWriMo is the ultimate block buster. There are no marks for quality, there is no praise for prose – just write. Even when the ideas don’t come, just write. 1,667 words a day, 50,000 words in the month. At the end of the month you may have just unlocked the inspiration to finish that novel you were working on
- Friends. The forums for NaNoWriMo are a fantastic place to make friends with other aspiring writers from all over, there are regional forums so you can get to know people in your region/city, there are write-ins (meet ups), where you can join fellow writers in a session, and word sprints can give you a fantastic competitive edge. People really do help each other there, whether it’s a plot idea, a name, or discussing the moral implications of X, Y, or Z
- Do something entirely different. Always writing science fiction? Why not use NaNoWriMo as an excuse to try something new, you might turn out to have a good hand for period romances you had no idea about. Literary abandon means you can write whatever you want, in whatever style you want, be it something new, something old, something borrowed or something new
- Break out of bad habits, I used to have an interminable time writing because I was in the habit of editing earlier passages, sometimes drastically, but NaNoWriMo gets you focused on writing the next words, not editing the old ones. Colour a section in purple and move on – you can always come back in the next draft and fix those problems
Do your own thing
Over the years I’ve known many people use NaNoWriMo as a frame work and community to work with while they do something other than a novel. A series of short stories or fan fics? No one’s judging. Want to do something non-fiction, I’ve known people do that too.
Don’t feel you need to restrict yourself. Just write.
What are you waiting for? Want to write, here’s the barrier being raised, inspiration descending.
And if it’s not for you, that’s fine too – there are other writing challenges around. There are also others out there that don’t want to do NaNoWriMo, so there’s also a counter-community to draw inspiration from.
Some people don’t like to the idea that thousands of new drafts are out there, pestering publishers that can’t keep up with supply. With self published books spiking, confusing sales. Some are worried it teaches the wrong things. However you learn from NaNoWriMo what you want to learn. My only hope is that people learn to take the opportunity to write.
There is never too much art in this world. There are never too many ideas. There’s never too much happiness, joy, and celebration.
So I embrace literary abandon every year, whether I get stuck at 10k, or blast right through and hit the 100k. If you love writing, you may just love NaNoWriMo.
Happy writing people.