The Burnt Monk Journal

Where Good Stories Go to Ash

Will You Join the Insanity Known as NaNoWriMo?

Will You Join the Insanity Known as NaNoWriMo?

by Rachel Blom,
October 29

November is NaNoWriMo. No, I’m not pulling your leg, this is truly a thing.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s the 30 days where hundreds of thousands of people worldwide attempt to write a novel (over 310,000 succeeded last year). Believe me, it’s pure insanity.

The rules are simple:

Start writing on November 1st and stop on November 30th.

You can prepare your novel by doing research, writing character bios, or outlining the plot. You can’t start writing yet though till that first day of November.

National Novel Writing Month

You have completed the NaNoWriMo challenge if you have written a novel of at least 50,000 words. Naturally, it has to be a ‘real’ novel, meaning you can’t just write ‘writing sucks’ and repeat that till the counter comes to 50,000 words. But other than that, there are no quality standards. It doesn’t matter if your novel is fan fiction, a first time attempt at writing, or the next great American novel.

It’s an honorary system, you register your own progress on the NaNoWriMo website. When you’re done, you paste the full text of your novel and upload it to get your ‘badge of honor’. No one will read it or actually check what you’ve written by the way, hence the honorary part in the system. But NaNoWriMo novels have been successful at times (after editing obviously), notable examples include the acclaimed Water for Elephants and the popular young adult novel Cinder.

There are often tons of regional and local events as well, like write-ins at libraries or book stores, meetups of participants, plotting and writing workshops, and whatnot. It’s a great way to get inspired and meet new writing friends to share your journey with. If you’ve always dreamed of writing a novel, this is your chance.

My Experiences with NaNoWriMo

I participated in 2010 for the first time. I learned so much from that month of diehard writing! You see, when you have to hit that 50,000 mark, you don’t worry so much about getting it exactly right. And that frees your mind somehow and helps the creative juices flow. I rocked it, scored almost 70,000 words in 30 days. I spent four times as long editing my work of course, as some of it was just plan bad writing. But it was a thrilling experience that taught me a lot about writing, plotting, and editing a novel.

Ever since, I’ve had reasons not to participate. Busy was the key word. This year I’m no less busy than the last few years (though last year I did have a valid excuse, we moved from Germany to the USA in November), but I’m dying to give NaNoWriMo another run.

Yes, it’s insanity to try and write a novel in 30 days. But it’s also a true challenge, and a lot of fun. Oh, I’m so tempted…

Will you join me?

(Editor’s Note: Read Rachel’s Becoming A Better Writer Series to get ready for NaNoWriMo.)

[Typewriter image via girl/afraid via Compfight cc and the NNWM image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month]


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