The 1st of November is fast approaching which means the start of National Novel Writing Month (more often known as NaNoWriMo). What better way to celebrate the beginning of the winter months than by locking yourself away and writing a novel? It may seem scary and time-consuming, or an insurmountable challenge, but I think that if you are interested in writing then NaNoWriMo may just be the best way to go about it.
So why write during NaNoWriMo?Structure:
Firstly there is that word count. 50,000 words is 1,667 words a day. That is absolutely achievable, and it gives a defined benchmark to meet everyday. Luckily, you do not have to achieve 1,667 every day, if there are days where writing is not an option, you can write extra on other days and it will all balance out.
You don’t even have to count the words up yourself, you can submit to the NaNo website and it will keep all your information there. There is also a progress tracker which will show you how close you are to your goal which is always useful for inspiration and encouragement. Sorted!
As part of signing up, you are sent pep talks and words of encouragement. These are from writers and people who have completed NaNoWriMo, and as a first time participant in 2012, I found them really helpful. You see examples of people who completed projects and achieved the magic of getting published. Building resilience, these talks show that if they can do it, you can do it too.
Another aspect of NaNoWriMo that I really enjoyed, and think you might too, was the social aspect. While you can be left to your own devices, for those of us who like having that extra bit of social support, there is help. Through the website there are facilities for chatting and meeting people who are attempting to complete the challenge also. You can add friends and keep track of their successes and progress. If your friends are editing this year and not writing, there are forums for online socialising and a hashtag on Twitter, where people encourage, look for support and share ideas and tips. If you prefer going outside and meeting people face-to-face there is also a facility to search for groups meeting in your local area. Go along for writing sessions, coffee and to make new writing friends.
I think this is one of the aspects of NaNoWriMo that sets it apart. There is very much a community feeling, the idea that we are all in this together. I am currently editing a project and it is no way near as fun as the initial 30 days of writing, reading and talking about writing and reading with people writing and reading in the same situation.
If you are the competitive type, NaNoWriMo has provided for you too. There is a competitive streak running through the month which I think is great fun. You can win badges for reaching certain milestones or achieving fulfilling certain tasks. You can get a running counter for your blog, showing your progress to the world. There is also a chart showing how many words particular regions have written, so you can fly the flag for your home country and get working!
Once you have competed 50,000 words (or more!) in the month you are now a NaNoWriMo winner. Congratulations! Now it is time for some swag and there is much to choose from. There are posters, t-shirts, coffee mugs and much more that you can purchase to remember your victory, or your participation (anyone can purchase these and they are lovely). There are also companies who offer discounts on their products for Winners including Scrivener which gives 50% off! Really good stuff.
I hope the above has inspired you to take part this year. There are still a couple of days left for preparation, or just plough on in on 1st November. Christopher Hitchens said “everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.” Can’t say I agree, instead get that novel going in November.