It’s almost that time again! The Office of Letters and Light are gearing up for National Novel Writing Month.
For those unfamiliar with the event, thousands of people from all over the world attempt to write a novel in a month. The goal is to write at least 50K words in the thirty days of November.
At lot of people think about writing, but never get around to actually doing it. Or like me, have dabbled in the past, but never got anywhere. By signing up and committing to do NaNo, it pushes you to finally take that big step and DO IT. Having people from all over the world cheering you on to success is a big help.
The beauty of the thing is that by having a short deadline with a challenging, but doable word count goal, it frees people up from the things that may otherwise hold them back from writing. Constant forward momentum is the key.
The mantra of NaNo is: Don’t edit.
What’s that you say? Don’t edit? No, that can’t be!
YES! Editing is for later. NaNo is for the (very) rough draft. By stuffing your inner editor into a locked trunk and letting the words flow, regardless of how craptastic they may be, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. It doesn’t matter if what you write is complete drivel, you can fix it later.
Some people call NaNo a contest, and it is in a sense. But you are not competing against other people, you’re competing against yourself and the deadline. No one ever sees what you write, unless you personally show it to them. The writing is not judged. The only thing you have to do to win is to write the first 50K words of an original novel before midnight on November 30th.
This will be my fourth NaNo, plus I did the summer Camp NaNo in 2011. I’ve won all three NaNos, I failed at camp. Out of those three wins I’ve only gone on to complete one of the novels after November was over. (NaNo 2010.) I even went on to completing a second draft. But then I stopped there, because I just don’t have the skill necessary to make it into a polished manuscript at this stage.
So what’s the point of even doing it, you ask? The first year I took it up as a personal challenge. I just wanted to see if I could even do it, since the most fiction I’d ever written prior to that was a few pages here and there. The sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed the 50K mark at the very end of the month was a feeling that is impossible to describe.
And best of all? I can actually say I have written a novel! How many people do you know who can say that? (If you regularly hang with published authors, don’t answer.)
After my first time I was just kinda hooked on participating. It’s exciting, painful, frustrating, and elating. Plus, I got my best friend involved for my second year, so now we participate together and she’s a great writing buddy.
I will likely never be a skilled enough fiction writer to submit my work to a publisher. But I’ve already learned so much about writing it’s incredible. And it makes for a great hobby!
If any of this sounds the least bit intriguing, go to nanowrimo.org, click on Help in the upper right corner, and read the participation information and guidelines. Then sign up!
What have you got to lose? Even if you only write 5K, if that’s more than you’ve ever written before you accomplished something. And you’ll gain an entirely new appreciation for the authors who write the books you love to read, I guarantee it.
For tips on why I think timelines are important in writing novels, see my NaNo post from 2010 here.
Maybe I’ll see you around the NaNo forums. Though, I go incognito there.