November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. This auspicious contest began in 1999 by Chris Baty with the challenge of 50,000 in thirty days. Two years ago, I dared to partake in the challenge and this year decided to once more take up the pen (or rather the keyboard) and crank out 50,000+ words by November 30th.
The rules are simple: You can’t start writing until November 1st, and it must be something you haven’t worked on before. No partial or unfinished works can be used. You can work on character biographies, plot planning, and prepare to start writing, but the actual nitty gritty of novel writing can’t begin until the start of NaNoWriMo.
Why join? I asked this myself the first time. I can’t speak for other writers, but for myself, I wanted to push myself to write more and to face a deadline. I wanted to hone writing speed and volume against skill and creativity. To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to finish. Cranking out 1,700 words a day was grueling. Writing wasn’t as enjoyable when I forced myself, either. Weaving a story with flair, pouring myself into the work, served only to produce page after page of very jagged writing. But I did it. I finished 50,000 words and then some, joining the 15% of the total number of participates that finish.
What did I win? Well I can say I completed the contest. Oh and I got a graphic to post on my site.
See? I wasn’t real pleased with the garish yellow, red, and black coloring. The following year they had a nifty powder blue. I’m curious what the colors will be this year…
Some of my fellow writing group members are also participating, where everyone will be nudging, prodding, and enabling one another to the end.
I’m already signed up. Are you willing to take up the challenge?
- When you start writing, ignore your inner editor and write with passion. You’ll edit later.
- Write regularly, whether daily or just weekends. Daily will help spread out the work.
- Work through the setbacks. I knew a woman who found her laptop crashed 20,000 words into the contest. She still managed to finis though she never showed me what she ended up with.
- Announce to friends and family you’re joining the NaNoWriMo and need their full support. Not only does this enable them to nag you to finish, you’re pressured to complete in time.
- Just write.