NaNoWriMo: A Way to Begin your Novel-Writing Adventure!
Novel writing is always a chore: it’s an arduous process, which can inevitably cause one to throw up their hands, and flip the keyboard, because the pressure behind a 100k word manuscript is apt to be too much for most novice writers. There aren’t many resources on how to best write a novel: the pacing, the strategy, the rudimentary outlining that makes the whole process speedier, and more efficient. Most writers are sort of wandering around in the dark, with no support, no real path, and hence, no true motivation to complete anything they’ve started. There is a source out there though, one that has been around for twenty-one years: the nonprofit organization NaNoWriMo.
I’ve written about NaNoWriMo for so many years, because I know if one commits to it, then it will work. It’s a bastion of support for writers, and helps them move forward with their ideas, and to help advance their careers. Four-of-the-ten full-length novels I have written, and about two more I’ve not finished, were started as NaNoWriMo projects. It is a very energy-filling system that gets someone writing again.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org) is a popular nonprofit organization, which has done a great deal of good for young writers,and gives the writer an intent to level up their writing, and finish a book, or start one throughout the month of November. It was started in 1999, by Chris Baty, who had the first sit-in writing group in San Francisco, along with 21 other writers, participating in the first wrimo. The idea was to help freelancers gain some sort of handle on the difficulty of time-management, and organizing their thoughts, with a safety net of encouragement and help. From that group of 22 participants, came forth an entire nation. Now, the organization sells shirts, hats, sweaters, writing guides, and self-published books about the organization, and writing itself. All profits go into charity, and helps grow young writers hoping to create generations of new, creative talents. One example of a famous book to come out of the NaNoWriMo process is Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, which became a movie starring Reese Witherspoon, and Robert Pattinson.
How NaNoWriMo works is simple: throughout the month of November, writers set a goal to write about 1,600 words a day, every day until November 30th, equaling around 50,000 words. Now that isn’t enough for most mainstream novels, but the idea is to have 50,000 words started on your novel, or 50,000 words added to an existing novel. Some even edit their books during the month. Up until this year, there was the “Now What?” stage, which was during January and February, where writers are encouraged to edit, and resolve any serious issues with the context of their story, getting it more polished for the ready to send it in for publication. This year launches an after-party themed critiquing system called: NaNo-Novel Week. It is from February 24th-February 28th. The contest itself is free to join, although participants are encouraged to donate if possible. After signing up, the writer announces the book they intend to work on, and start on November 1st. Some veterans choose to start at midnight November 1st, and host Halloween parties, and writing-scared events, writing well into the morning, then enjoying a bit of rest, until getting back at it the next day. What makes it a difficult time to write, and plan is that November is smack-dab in-between the three big holidays of the Fall/Winter: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Many writers who attempt NaNoWriMo tend to discover that it is rather difficult to just go in without some sort of plan, but that’s where the website itself helps. It’s a fun-filled menagerie of writing tips, tricks, and tools that will make the whole process a bit smoother. Badges are rewarded for completing certain tasks, live video game achievements or trophies, and help people to reach their goal. A word count can be updated daily, if-not hourly, and this shows you true progression from start-to-finish. Some set the goal higher, and instead of 50,000 words, they go for the full 90,000 words, (which is the industry standard for the bare minimum a novel should be by most publishing houses. Considered the sweet-spot for marketing a book) instead of the minimum. There are a boat-load of forums, regions, and municipal Liaisons, all working to help you with the knowledge to get you through your NaNo experience.
So what tools are available? Many writers who participate are in-fact well-known, and established writers, they are given an incentive to work via the NaNoWriMo challenge, as they are almost always in unison for helping shape the passion of young writers to grow and thrive ina creative, and accepting environment. Anyone is open to join, and anyone is allowed to participate, and reap the rewards, and prizes.
The prizes aren’t really prizes, but earned accomplishments. However, NaNoWriMo gains many new sponsors a year. For example, CreateSpace, a long-time sponsor of the event will award any winner one free paperback copy of their book, (it must be completed of course!) and have in the past even given out several free copies to share with family and friends. Scribner has also given many winners a chance to become full-fledged writers, and publish through them, awarding select few books a chance at the mass market via publication.
NaNoWriMo is a great resource for novice and professional writers, and in-turn has a storied history that reaches back to the early days of the internet, and has been a helpful assortment of writing trivia, knowledge, and a positive guide for writers of all ages, races, sexes, and creeds to have their stories shaped, and sold. Each year has a unique theme that is announced in the middle of October, and it is used as a muse to help inspire the platform, allowing writers to pick a banner, and proudly announce their project to the world. 2020’s theme will be announced soon! If you’re interested, you can register for free anytime at the link below:
Good luck fellow Wrimos!