Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Why Every Writer Should Do Nanowrimo

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this Sunday November 1st?   Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes

Why yes, yes it is, Charlotte.

Thank you.  So you know what that means:

Drumroll, please….

It's time for Nanowrimo!

What's that you say? You just crawled out from your writing cave and you haven't heard of Nanowrimo?  Well, let me clue you in. Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month, wherein participants write a novel during the month of November.  Yeah, the month with Thanksgiving and Black Friday in it.  Uh-huh.

For the purposes of Nanowrimo, a novel is considered to be 50,000 word,s which usually isn't a full-length novel, but its darn close. And to get 50K words done in a month is incredible.  You can finish the rest of it later.

I know.  Sounds like madness.  But its really pretty fun, in a masochistic kind of way.  And even if you only make it part way through, I believe it will benefit your writing.  Here's why:

1.  It will kick start you into a regular writing habit.  In order to complete Nanowrimo, you've got to write every day.  It's just too easy to get behind otherwise.  Yeah, some people may do it all in a few crazy-ass huge word count sessions, but for most people, the challenge will get accomplished a day at a time.  This is how all writing gets done over the long haul, and so even if you don't get to 50K words, you'll have gone a long way to cement a good habit.

2.  It will get you in the mindset of attaining daily writing goals.  When I've done the challenge (I actually completed it one year, have gone about half way in other years) I set myself a daily page count goal of 2,000 words to allow for days off and emergencies.  At other times of the year, I go for less than that, say in the 1K to 1,500 K range.  If I start to complain that such word counts are just too much, I remind myself of Nanowrimo and the 2,000 words a day.  And I keep writing.   Nanowrimo is the ultimate marathon.  Once you've completed it, you know you can do it again and you can't be a slacker!

3.  You can take advantage of the collection energy.  I'm not sure how many people do Nanowrimo each year, but it's in the millions, world-wide.  (It started out in 2000 with 21 people.)  Just think of the energy of all those people holed up in their writing caves, working away! It is astounding.  Plus, there are local meet-ups all over the world, which you can find out about on the site.

4.  You can get encouragement and advice from other writers.  There's tons of it on their website, and they generally send out helpful and motivating emails throughout the month as well.  But you do have to sign up for all this.

5.  It's the best training to write fast.  More and more in my old age, I'm convinced that just throwing words on the page is the way to go.  We too often let the inner critic or the inner roommate take over and rule us while we are writing, and that just slows us down.  Am I always able to write fast? No.  But its my goal. And writing 2K words a day helps.

6.  It gives you bragging rights.  Let's face it, we writers don't get a lot to crow about.  We pretty much do the same thing day after day, and then when we are finished we send our work out into the world and endure rejections.  So why not take advantage of something that actually let's you win–and give you something to brag about?

7.  It gives you an ironclad excuse to write.  When I was an MFA student, my favorite thing was to say, "Sorry, I can't, I'm a student and I've got an assignment due." For some reason people took this much more seriously than when I said, "Sorry I can't, I need to work on my novel."  Nanowrimo gives you an excuse!  You can now say, with grave authority "Sorry, I can't, I'm on deadline." Booyah!

Bonus reason:  It's fun!!!!!  Yeah, a non-writer hearing about writing 2K words a day and calling it fun would think we're nuts.  But you write because you love it.  You write because its fun.  So let yourself in on the party.

So, do tell: are you up for Nanowrimo? Have you done it before? Do you plan to do it again? 

(For other posts related to Nanowrimo, go here.)

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

0 thoughts on “Why Every Writer Should Do Nanowrimo

  1. Amanda

    Both of my books started as NaNo projects! I wrote The Thief during NaNo 2013 and The Damage as a Camp NaNo project in July 2014. I’ve never really gotten involved in the forums or anything, but knowing there are millions of people out there doing it–it’s kind of like training for a marathon. You do it alone, but just knowing others are getting it done too is motivation.

    Have you read The Night Circus? I heard the author speak once, that book also started as a NaNo project.

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    I just saw that about the Night Circus on Wikipedia!  And I'm embarrassed to admit that I've not read it.  One of these days!  Yeah, I'm not much for forums, either, but I did like the emails they sent and the feeling of that collective energy.  I'm cheating this year by working on a novel already started–but I'm still hoping to get those 50K words in!

  3. Beverly

    I’m in. This morning I got twitchy and thought I should be kind to myself and not participate, but I’m going to. I can be kind to myself in December!

  4. Jenni Gainsborough

    But why does it have to be November? I know I have to devote a week to visiting family around Thanksgiving and I am sure I am far from being the only person in that situation. So my month then becomes three weeks. Why isn’t Nanowrimo January, February or March? Dreary months with no holidays to mess them up?

  5. Charlotte Dixon

    Ha! I love it! We can commiserate together and celebrate once December comes!

  6. Charlotte Dixon

    I've often wondered that myself.  I'm pretty sure a man–who does not have to cook Thanksgiving diner-started it. (Just like I'm certain that every toilet was designed by a man who has never had to clean one, all those dumb curvy places on the bottom that are impossible to wash.)  February would be perfect, even if it is a short month.  Maybe we should have our own Nanowrimo then!

  7. Genia

    My favorite thing about NaNo is the camaraderie. Our region (Nashville) is VERY active and we’ve had fabulous MLs for years. We’re doing a midnight write-in Saturday night/Sunday morning to give the month a proper start, plus another write-in later Sunday afternoon! On Veterans Day we do an all-day write-in since many of us are off that day. For me, the write-ins are golden. The years I’ve written the most, I’ve gone to almost all of them. Full disclosure: I’ve never won. This year, though… this is my year!

  8. Charlotte Dixon

    I'm sure it is your year, Genia!  I'm rooting for you! Love the sound of those late-night write-ins but I'd probably fall asleep.

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