NaNo-What-o? No, NaNoWriMo!
That time of year has come upon us again. No, I'm not talking about Halloween, or Thanksgiving, or any of the holidays. No, no, I'm talking about something much more important - NaNoWriMo!
What exactly is NaNoWriMo, you ask?
Well, I'm so glad you asked.
Here let me tell you...
NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth
NaNoWriMo, get it? Okay, according to the site, that is pronounced: NAN-no WRY-Mo. Most authors I know who are participating have come to just call it NaNo. It comes in the month of November, every year since 1999.
Every year in October, http://www.nanowrimo.org opens up for new subscriptions for eager novel writers to challenge themselves by writing a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. There's a catch though - you can't start writing the actual novel until 12:01 your local time, November 1, and you must be finished with the novel by the end of the month. Now, the novel is not limited to 50K words, but to 'win' the NaNoWriMo Challenge, you must not only write at least 50K words, but you must also finish the novel.
There is a list of author's who have actually had their NaNoWriMo novel published, and many people who wrote novels for NaNo and went on to self publish.
So what's the point to it all?
Well, for someone who has never published an novel, NaNoWriMo provides a great motivation, in a fun environment, with lots of other aspiring authors to support an encourage one another and finally tap out that novel that we all think we have dwelling inside of us. For the experienced or published author, NaNoWriMo really gives the author a nice challenge, by adding a deadline environment, accountability and a means for checking progress. This can help an author who has been tossing around ideas for their next book really dig in and push the creativity out of them.
The first thing you do is visit the website at nanowrimo.org and register for an account and create your profile. This is completely and totally free. NaNo is supported mostly by donations. After you have created your account and profile you can join the user forums and discussion groups, also free, and get to meet other authors taking the challenge this year. Last year, NaNo boasted an impressive 59,000 participants, which means you potentially have 59,000 other writers all there to cheer you on.
In addition to the website, many areas in the US have local NaNo meetings with other participants in close physical proximity. The group in my area met regularly during October and November at the local Starbucks.
Now, after you have created your profile, have added all your writing buddies, joined a local group to track progress by your area, you are now ready to prepare to write your novel. Now, remember, the rules say you can't start until November 1, on the actual writing, but there are many things you can do to prepare.
Below is my self-help list for preparing for NaNoWriMo (btw, I was a NaNo 'winner' last year too):
1. Buy lots of coffee.
If coffee is not your caffeine of choice, then buy lots of whatever is. Fifty thousand words is much more than most realize. Think about this, most articles on sites like Associated Content are only about 600-1000 words long. That means you will be writing, on the upper end, the equivalent of about 84 articles in one month's time, but with a plot and story line, hopefully, that should be consistent and flow together well. That might just mean some late nights, and coffee is a staple!
2. Buy a plastic shower cap.
When it is 2am, two days before Thanksgiving, your entire family coming to visit, and you are only 30,000 word into your NaNo novel, you will need to place this shower cap on your head in order to remind you not to pull your hair out.
3. Lock up all firearms.
The temptation will be too great at 5am after no sleep, when one of your novel's character decides to take the storyline in a whole new direction, NOT to shoot your computer monitor. Be sure all firearms and baseball bats are securely locked away during the month of November.
4. Buy headphones.
This is not to listen to music. No, these will be what you put on your head to block out all the sounds of people in your house whining, "You're at the computer writing again?" Be sure not to buy headphones with a cord though. The temptation to strangle yourself or them will simply be too great.
5. At 11:59pm, October 31 - promptly disregard and temporarily forget anything and everything you have ever been taught about writing.
This is important. NaNo isn't about writing the perfect novel or the great American novel. NaNo is about writing A novel, crappy, good, in between... the point isn't to make it perfect, but to challenge yourself to do something different that you normally would not do if you were not participating in NaNoWriMo. In order to finish a novel in 30 days, you will have to let go of your preconceived notions about writing novels and just let your writing flow. Honestly, you may be surprised when you let go of all the 'rules' of writing just how easily writing can flow.
6. Learn how not to edit.
NaNoWriMo is about writing a novel in 30 days, not editing one. In fact, NaNo has March set aside, or maybe it's February, but nonetheless, there is a month set aside by NaNo to edit your crappy November novel. November is National Novel WRITING Month, and your goal is only to write it, not to edit it yet. Also, it's not National Novel RE-writing month, so save the rewrites for after you have actually WRITTEN the novel.
Now, let's get a bit more serious about NaNo. While you cannot start writing the actual novel until November 1, you can indeed start writing a plot outline and developing your characters right now. If you get a good outline prepared and learn and know your characters well, you will be able to really just sit down and pound out the story.
There's a couple of weeks left before the actual kick off, so you should have plenty of time to register on the site, set up your profile, and start working on your outline and character development so that you are ready to begin writing, writing, writing, during the month of November.
I have found this challenge to be a lot of fun, a little bit crazy, and highly motivating for me as a novelist. I completed a novel through NaNoWriMo last year called, "In Her Own Back Yard" and this year, my novel is titled, "Another Lifetime."
Don't forget to read the FAQs, because not only are they informative, but they are hilarious to read too. And be sure to sign up for the weekly prompts from Chris. He's funny, motivating, and a total hoot to read.
Feel free to add me as a writing buddy (michelleldevon) and let me know your NaNo name so I can add you and together, we'll see if we can't each crank out a crappy novel in the month of November.
Best of luck to all who participate.
By Michelle L Devon | Submitted On October 20, 2006
Michelle L Devon is a freelance writer and an editor, providing write for hire and editing services through her company, Accentuate Services. For more information, or if you need someone to edit your NaNoWriMo novel, please visit her website at http://www.accentuateservices.com
For help with your writing or to find paying writing gigs, you can join her free writer's forum at http://www.writersforum.info or http://www.accentuateservices.com/forum
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