In answer to one of Bird’s posts I shared some information about NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. Then I thought: Others might be interested in this as well so here are some of the particulars.
NaNo, as it’s often called for short, is an online writing challenge. You challenge yourself to see if you can write 50,000 words during the month of November. It begins at 12:01 am on Nov. 1, and ends at 11:59 pm on Nov. 30. You “win” if you write 50,000 (or more) words. At the end of the month you submit your manuscript by email. NaNo makes everything very easy to do. Along the way NaNo provides you with a lot of rah-rah, hilarious, and energetic support. There are forums where you can look up all manner of information about writing. You might join a local group, meaning you look up your state, city, or general area, and you could meet up with others near you who are also devoting their November to NaNo. I did this, and met some neat people who live very near me. We would get together every Sunday at a Panera Bread, bring our computers, talk, and read the latest portion of our manuscript for comments. It was great fun. Of course we ate too, so that made it that much better!
The point of NaNo is to write quantity to watch your word count grow. There is, by the way, a daily word counter you can use so you always know where you are. A page is provided where you can enter as much or as little about yourself and your book as you want, as well as a graph showing your daily progress. You can also add writing buddies, and there’s an email component should you want to communicate with those writing buddies.
At first it went against my English teacher “grain” to write quantity without paying much attention to quality, but I soon realized that in order to keep up with daily goals (an average of 1667 words per day) I had to do just that. I am so accustomed to editing as I write, but I had to silence that inner editor.
At the end, when I had a completed first draft, that was the time when I began editing. I’ve done NaNo twice, and I have the first one almost completely edited. I need to start that work on the second. I did NaNo for the third time last year, but stopped after 27,000-some words, as the story I was writing turned into another version of one I’d written before!
Although I’m a poet, it’s a fun foray into the world of fiction writing, and I’ve had a ball being the master over my characters, what they did, where they lived, and my favorite part…naming them.
If this whets your appetite, check out NaNoWriMo online for a little taste of what might come five months from now. There is also a student version of NaNo which can be done in the classroom, as well as “Script Frenzy,” a screenwriting version, which is held in April. Just google “nanowrimo” and read around.
I have learned much about myself as a writer from doing NaNo, I’ve interested others in doing it, and I heartily recommend it. The cost? However much time, effort, coffee, chocolate (or whatever) you want to expend in writing, writing, writing toward seeing yourself to your winner’s badge.
Go for it! I’ll be there. So when the snows of November swirl and the skies turn gray, join millions of others around the world who are at their computers or filling yellow legal pads with words. You’ll be in good company.