Every year in November thousands (millions maybe?) of authors, fledgling and established, take part in the phenomenon that is NaNoWriMo, or, National Novel Writing Month. Although this is an American based program, it has become a global phenomenon. Through the power of the internet anyone can partake in the basics of NaNoWriMo: writing 50,000 words over 30 days. Kicking off on the 1st authors start what is essentially a month-long sprint to write the first draft of their manuscript.
Every year, usually on the 3rd of November, I go “shit NaNoWriMo”…
You see every year I have the best of intentions to try Nano in an effort to be more productive. But I always miss those first few days and decide to try again next year. Sure, I still try and write as much as possible during that month, but now I’m more established as an author, it doesn’t differ much from any other month. I’m always writing, editing, or developing a story.
As someone who hasn’t done NaNo, this is how I feel about it:
It is a great motivational tool. I know many writers who’ve been motivated to finally write their first manuscript by partaking in the program. It’s basically a month-long online summer camp program. By partaking in the program you have an accountability to reach your word goal, the same way your gym-buddy motivates you to actually go to the gym. It might not be sustainable to write 50k a month every month, but chances are you can do it for one month.
I personally think NaNoWriMo is best suited to beginner authors. Established authors already have daily word counts and writing schedules designed to improve their productivity and profitability. Established authors also generally need little motivation to write. NaNoWriMo can be confidence building for newbie authors by proving that you can do it.
The organisers at NaNoWriMo provide courses to prep you in the lead up to November (check it out here), Pep Talks from authors (check it out here), and as I understand it prompts, and more (I think there’s a wordcount tracker?). They even have a blog full of useful topics for aspiring writers (check it out here).
Although I couldn’t find confirmation of this on their website, I vaguely recall from past years, NaNoWriMo includes a competition for manuscripts finished during November, to help authors find agents and publishing deals.
According to the Wiki page for NaNo:
“In October 2007, the self-publishing company CreateSpace teamed up with NaNoWriMo to begin offering winners a single free, paperback proof copy of their manuscripts, with the option to use the proof to then sell the novel on Amazon.com. In 2011, CreateSpace offered winners five free, paperback proof copies of their manuscripts. In addition to CreateSpace, each year NaNoWriMo has a new list of sponsors that reward winners and participants with various discounts and prizes.“
Wiki also notes, “Since 2006, nearly 400 NaNoWriMo novels have been published via traditional publishing houses and over 200 novels have been published by smaller presses or self-published.” One of these novels was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Another was one of my favourite recent books, Cinder by Marissa Meyer (you can read my review on The Lunar Chronicles here). Water for Elephants was also a NaNo book which not only found a publishing deal but was also adapted into a Reese Witherspoon movie.
So NaNoWriMo can be much more than just a motivational tool. NaNo has the potential to launch your writing career, or progress it further. So, am I going to try NaNoWriMo this year? It’s my intention, and I’ll blog about the experience afterwards.
Am I going to realise I’ve missed the start on November 3rd? Probably….