Hey lovelies, you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo by now, right? If you haven’t participated or have heard it being tossed around in the writing community but have no clue what it is, I got you, sib. This post starts the first in a series of posts for what we like to call the crazy prep month before November, also known as #PrepTober.
What is it?
So what is NaNoWriMo anyway? Well, November is designated as the National Novel Writing Month. In their own words,
“National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. You may know this mass creative explosion by the name National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo—but that’s not all that NaNoWriMo is!https://nanowrimo.org/what-is-nanowrimo
NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit organization that supports writing fluency and education. But it’s also a social network for writers like LinkedIn is for job professionals, or DeviantArt is for artists, or Facebook is for moms whose kids accept their friend requests only to provide them with “limited profile” access. It tracks words for writers like Fitbit tracks steps for the ambulatory. It’s a real-world event, during which 900+ volunteers in places like Mexico City, Seoul, and Milwaukee coordinate communal writing sessions in thousands of partnering libraries, coffee shops, and community centers like… well, like nothing else.
It’s internet-famous. It’s a community-powered fandom (before there was the Beyhive, or Nerdfighters, there were Wrimos). It’s a start-up incubator for novels (books like Water for Elephants, Fangirl, and WOOL began as rough drafts in November!). It’s a teaching tool, it’s a curriculum, and its programs run year-round.
Whatever you thought NaNoWriMo was, it is more than that.”
Why Do Writers Hype it so much?
I can’t speak for other writers. I mean, I could, but I like to field test things and give you my own experiences because I feel like it is more valuable to you lovely humans out there to know I’ve been there, tried it, and still think it’s good. So let me tell you why I love NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo is like an extreme sport for writers. In the same way that people who leave their houses and go jump off mountains for funzies love an adrenaline rush, the people like myself who experience NaNo also feel this rush.
Writing a novel in a month, writing even 50,000 words of a novel in a month, is a heck of a large bill to fill for most unpublished writers. (Is it bill to fill? Somehow that sounds wrong. I’m bad at metaphors, you guys must know this by now). To make 50,000 words in 30 days means you need to diligently be producing at least 1667 new words into your manuscript per day (and not deleting them all at the beginning of the next writing session).
You can’t get this type of workload finished in a day without burning out or making your fingers bleed. That means, for most writers, you have to work at it, usually in several sessions during the day. And usually for several days every week.
Doing NaNo taught me the importance of showing up for my passion and dreams. The importance of knowing what to write at the drop of a hat, or making the time in small pockets throughout the day. It taught me when I write best, and how to set a schedule. It taught me I could do this thing, even though it was hard. And it taught me that having a draft of my work, pushing through even when it was rough, is infinitely more important than having nothing at all.
I have won some years and I have lost others, but it is the thrill I get as I feverishly draft thousands of words that keeps me coming back to NaNo time and time again.
What do you get out of it?
It’s best to start out with the obvious. What do you get? Whether you win or lose, whether the draft is complete at 50,000 words or barely halfway done, don’t you ultimately gain new words in your novel that you hadn’t had before?
Less obvious is a local writing community. You can set yourself up in a region and NaNo will put you in a forum with other people in your region. You can post topics, plan and attend meetups and write ins, and get to know the writers in your community that you may not have known were there. You can cheer them on, get cheered, and be a part of a local community–if just for one month–that wants you to thrive.
Last, NaNo partners with lots of other writing-specific programs to give you discount codes and other offers. If you’ve been looking for a program but can’t jump for the fees, participating in NaNo can help. Winners get more varied and deeper discounted products and services, but everyone who participates has access to a number of codes. This year the products for participants includes:
- 40% off Novlr for 1 year. And 2 years for NaNoWriMo winners!
- Free Hermit premium subscription for a year!
- Limited Time Offer! 50% off Campfire Pro.
- NaNoWriMo participants get 1 Month of The Great Courses Plus FREE!
- 20% off Dabble for all NaNoWriMo Participants. 50% off for winners!
- NaNoWriMo participants save $100 on a ProWritingAid Premium lifetime license!
- Edit Your NaNoWriMo Story Like a Pro with AutoCrit!
- Become the ultimate writer and worldbuilder: NaNoWriMo participants get 25% off World Anvil!
- NaNoWriMo participants get 20% percent off Sisters in Crime membership!
- Upload Your Book For Free with IngramSpark!
- 50% off Scrivener for all Camp NaNoWriMo winners, and 20% off for all participants!
- Take the guesswork out of self-publishing with “Getting Started with KDP” office hours
- NaNoWriMo Participants, claim your package full of awesome from Ninja Writers!
- Get 25% off Storyist for MacOS!
- Level Up Your Writing Process with 4thewords!
- 25% off any annual subscription to the Save the Cat! Story Structure Software.
- NaNoWriMo participants get one FREE month of unlimited online writing courses with Writing Mastery!
- Get a free copy of a self-publishing guide from Kobo!
Why November? Why can’t it happen any other month? (Camp NaNo)
Sibs, I’ve been asking this question for YEARS. November is the absolute WORST time to commit to writing a ton of words, isn’t it? Between school projects and family time, retail picking up and weather coming down, lots of new products, movies, and books coming out in time for the holidays, it doesn’t seem to be a slow enough month for anything. Why would they choose to add writing a novel onto all of that?
Well, I can’t find any hard facts on this matter. Other people suggest it is the challenge or the only-happens-once-a-year call to action. Honestly Sib, I’m with you. November is always a bad time to write a book. But maybe you do it anyway and tell me what you think?
How do you “win” NaNoWriMo?
Quite simply, you win NaNoWriMo by making 50,000 new words in your manuscript between November 1st and November 30th. Who’s counting?
Well, no one really. You could find an online word scrambler, tell it to make up 50,000 words of garbage on day 1 and “win” NaNo for the month, complete with all the winning access codes that you will get come December. No one is going to read whatever thing you put into the text box at the end that confirms you’ve written 50,000 words. In fact, no one but you knows whether you wrote the words in November, or three years ago. No one will judge if your words are good, how well your prose is written, or enumerate in any other way the quality of your work.
There is literally no test or evaluation at the end of any kind. Simply put, did you make 50,000 words in a single document? If you did, great job! You win!
This sounds like fun! How can I join you?
First of all, you need to sign up for an account. You can head to nanowrimo.org and find out a ton more. Accounts are free and you can set up any or no email notifications from the website at all. Start your profile and set up your book.
Do you want to add me in particular and track how my writing is going? No problem. Navigate over to https://nanowrimo.org/participants/zoe-carmina or search for me in the box and add me as a writing buddy!
Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Let us know why or why not in the comments below!