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National novel writing month

Writing Tips

National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO)

Laurie Clayton is a Winghill tutor and published author. She has written episodes for Skyland, a children’s television show series that used motion-capture animation. Check out what she has to say about upcoming NaNoWriMo!

Okay, let’s start with the obvious question. WHAT IS NANOWRIMO? My best guess was National November Write More: it takes place in November, it’s about writing more and . . . it’s international. Hmm.

Turns out the only part I got right was National, although this is most definitely an international event that kicks off November 1 (and ends November 30) which encourages everyone who enters to write more – in fact, to write a whole novel! NaNoWriMo is:

National Novel Writing Month.

“Wha–? Write a novel in a month? Impossible!” you say?

The 310,095 participants who completed the challenge in 2013 would disagree.

Here’s the deal:

50,000 words = a completed novel in the world of NaNoWriMo

They’re talking first draft.

There is no entrance fee but there’s no sweet publishing deal awaiting the winner, either. In fact, there is no definitive winner. But there are prizes donated by writer-lovin’ companies, including publishers. In fact, 100 NaNoWriMo authors have had their books published. As I scrolled down the list, one name jumped out at me:

Sara Gruen. Her book? Like Water for Elephants. Read the book? Seen the movie?

I did not know this book began its life on NaNoWriMo. Respect.

Write your own novel

Let’s get back to those 50,000 words. It may be a lot of words to write in a month, but isn’t it a little short for a novel? NaNoWriMo says it’s doable, even for the 9 to 5 working stiff. It points out that that’s about the length of The Great Gatsby. We’re told, rather sweetly, I think, “In short: If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel, too.”
If you’re under the age of seventeen, you have the option of joining the Young Writers Program, which allows you to set a challenging yet attainable word count goal.

Okay. I believe 50K is a novel. I believe I can crank out 50K in 30 days. The concept of writing without editing for a solid month intrigues me. Now what?

From the look of things, past participants are gearing up for this year’s month-long marathon right now. It’s too late for NaNoWriMo Camp (which is a virtual writing-camp experience) but just the right time to get in on the 2014 experience.

It’s easy and free to join. Once you do, you choose a “home” region. This is where you’ll find out about the live events taking place in the area where you live. You can find your writing buddies here, too, although they could be anywhere in the world.

You don’t even have to write in English. Any language is allowed, although to have your progress tracked and your final product recognized, you’ll need to use a word generator (link provided on the NaNoWriMo site) to validate your submission.

Write a novel in a month

This is where I balked, last year. I didn’t want to post my WIP (work in progress) on a site where hundreds of thousands of people could read it. As it turns out, had I read the fine print, I needn’t have worried. To be considered for a place in the winners’ circle, authors must upload their 50,000 word novels to the NaNoWriMo site for word-counting purposes. The novels are counted and deleted by a computer program. They are not read. In addition, NaNoWriMo provides instructions for easily scrambling your book before uploading it.

My paranoia of plagiarism is assuaged. Once again, I’m looking at this thing as a fun challenge and a way to get a fast first draft of a book onto the page.

A ton of support awaits those who participate. There’s a group to help with appellations (names) a group to help with plot holes and even a group of published authors who’ll send pep talks to your email during November. The 2014 pep talkers are: Veronica Roth, Tamora Pierce, Brandon Sanderson, Chuck Wendig, Kami Garcia, and Jim Butcher.

Plus you can purchase tee-shirts and totes and stuff that identify you as an intrepid playah.

So, this NaNoWriMo thing that looked impossible at first glance is starting to look like – fun.

Let us know what you think in a comment!

Posted on October 22, 2014 by Erin

2 Responses to “National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO)”

  1. Blu-Ray Movies says:

    Thanks. nice. comprehensive and succinct.

  2. Chante says:

    I love NANOWRIMO. I’ve participated two years in a row and although I fall drastically below the word count each time, I never feel like a failure. I always feel marvelous at what I’ve accomplished, and each year I get closer to my goal. 🙂

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