NaNoWriMo

No, that’s not me speaking an invented language.  Any such language invented by me would involve a lot more grunting and pointing.  NaNoWriMo is shorthand for "National Novel Writing Month."  How does one write a novel in a month?  Well, there is a way.

National Novel Writing Month was started by Chris Baty in 1999 in San Francisco.  The first year, they had but 21 participants.  In the year I did it, over 100K authors signed up and gave it a shot.  It’s an effort a communal self-encouragement but has met with growing success each year.

The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to get the author writing.  Starting on 1 Nov, the author has 30 days to write 50K words (or about 1700 words a day).  The idea is not to edit, police for typos or worry about pacing but to just get the words out.  So many authors struggle with just getting something – anything – on paper … so the point is to get the first thoughts down and worry about the editing later.  There are no fees, no one looking over your shoulder to judge your effort, and no prizes other than the satisfaction of finishing.

I did this in Nov 2007.  First thoughts?  It wasn’t easy.  Two things were particularly hard.  One, it is hard to maintain that kind of focus.  You have to just get in and hammer out the words.  You have to turn off your internal editor and just let things fly.  Two, the pace is brutal.  If real life happens and you miss a day, you have to double-up and nail 3K words in a single day

But on the plus side, it was very rewarding.  It was a challenge and it was nice to know I could do it.  Even though the writing was a garbled mess, I had a good framework which forms the core of the novel I now write.  And I see the value in the enterprise, as the whole exercise works as advertised:  it gets the writer writing.  On the point, NaNoWriMo is gold.

Like most things, my timing could have been better; this would have been more relevant had I brought it up a month ago.  Since this year’s NaNoWriMo is already underway, my post is outdated.  Meh.  Any month can be NaNoWriMo if someone wants to put the effort forth.  And now everyone reading has a year to think about it.

For more information, see the website here.  I wanted to do it again last year but my house flooded and my family was forced to move.  Thie year, I was already working on my novel.  I’ll have it done by next year, so I plan to tackle NaNoWriMo next year and I encourage any writers out there to try it.  If you can’t, it’s not like you failed.  Give it a shot, and see where the words take you.

Even if you make up your own language.  Grunt.

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