I’ve been singing the praises of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) since the first year I attempted it (2008!). If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo, go to their website and check it out (then join, add me as a buddy and write a 50,000 word novel in a month). Here are my top 10 reasons why November will always be about 1667 words a day.
- Never delete. Ever. Every single word you write between November 1st and 30th counts toward your goal. Doesn’t matter if the words are in order. It’s all about the word count.
- Word sprints. Follow @NaNoWordSprints or just declare a sprint of your own. How many words can you write in 10 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour? A lot more than you think you can, I bet.
- Excuses, excuses. Instead of using the laundry, your dog, or even your job as an excuse not to write, use NaNoWriMo as an excuse to let some things slide, or let other people help out for once.
- Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday. It’s always meant a fulfilling combo of food and family to me. But how much more exciting is it to plan for and execute Thanksgiving dinner 30,000-40,000 words into a new book? Thanksgiving spices up the month, giving you something to look forward to and work around.
- Peer pressure. I have a lot of virtual writing buddies and a lot of actual friends who I encourage to do NaNoWriMo every year. There’s nothing like your mother-in-law asking if you’ve gotten your word count done for the day (because she’s already hit 2,000) to light a fire under your fingers.
- Everyone’s a winner. Even if you don’t “win” NaNoWriMo by writing 50,000 words in a month, just attempting it means you’ve put some words on a page that might not otherwise have gotten written. This will be my 7th year participating, with only one win. That’s right. I’ve only actually written 50,000 words in thirty days once! But…in the other years I’ve written anywhere from 10,000-40,000 words, which isn’t too shabby, and two of the books I started during NaNoWriMo I went on to publish.
- Goofy pep talks. The folks at the Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit that sponsors NaNoWriMo among other writerly programs, have a whimsical side that shows up in all their emails and on the website. I’m not a super whimsical person, but I find their relaxed, not-too-serious approach to writing to be comforting and inspiring. It’s just fiction!
- The halo. If you donate $10 or more to the Office of Letters and Light, your avatar on the site gets a halo, and I’ve got to say I donate pretty much for that.
- 1667. It seems like a lot of words, but I can do it in about an hour and a half. That’s two 45 minute writing sessions a day. How fast can you do it?
- A challenge to be met. Like a lot of writers, I respond well to deadlines. NaNoWriMo is the ultimate deadline. You can write 1667 words a day or you can write nothing for 25 days and then write 10,000 words a day for five days and still win (I don’t recommend that option). It doesn’t matter how you NaNo, just that you do it. You’ll have fun, you’ll feel like you’re going crazy, you’ll lose sleep, you’ll procrastinate, you’ll make it up, you’ll fall behind, you’ll sprint back. Even though it’s all about word count, it’s also about what you learn about yourself as a writer on the way to that specific, tangible goal. Are you up for the challenge?
So tell me in the comments, are you in? Share your NaNo handle and I’ll add you as a buddy.
I love this, Libby! I’ve “won” NaNoWriMo two years in a row, and both manuscripts finaled in contests (one actually won first place). Neither has sold, yet. You never know you’re capable of until you can write the story all the way through to the end, and NaNo is a great way to get there, or to get through the first 50K of a longer story. Great post, and congratulations on your publishing success!
Thanks, Alina. Congrats on winning NaNoWriMo…good luck with making it three years in a row!