National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo, is an event for writers to start and finish an entire novel in November. Never heard of it? Basically, participants of NaNoWriMo write 50,000 words in 30 days. By December 1st, “winning” writers have a workable first draft.
When explaining NaNoWriMo to my family and friends (because they’ve never heard of it), I always get asked the same questions:
1. How does anyone have time to write 50,000 words in 30 days?
2. Why would anyone want to dedicate so much compressed time to writing?
. . . And give the same really simple answers:
1. It’s writing 1,667 words a day, which is completely manageable.
2. An amazing community is working right alongside you.
For the most part, writing a novel is a very solitary thing. It isn’t like writing music or rehearsing a play; writing a novel happens in total isolation. However, for one magical month a year, you suddenly aren’t alone. Thousands of people are committing to the same cause: putting effort behind their art.
Unfortunately, NaNoWriMo gets a bad rap, repeatedly being accused of encouraging “crap writing,” “writing without revising,” and “fast-track publishing.” But these arguments fail to understand the real aim of NaNoWriMo: to offer discipline, accountability, and deadline-driven writing. The point of NaNoWriMo is not to write a publishable novel in 30 days, but simply to write every one of those days.
Yes, some people participate in NaNoWriMo not to become better writers, but to see if they’re able to write a novel-length manuscript. Some of these manuscripts are just fan-fiction. There are, however, many professionally-aspiring writers who are genuinely working to write better and faster. Therein, NaNoWriMo has an invaluable purpose.
If for nothing else, NaNoWriMo will cultivate your art, which is never a waste of time or effort. Sometimes great art is never procured because of doubt, an evil trick of the mind and one that often afflicts us with “writer’s block.” As many have said before me, the only way to get over it is to write. This is one of the best things about NaNoWriMo: there isn’t enough time to leave the writing for another day. The need to just write is here.
NaNoWriMo proves to writers that they’re capable of not only finishing a novel, but of working through the writer’s block that has some novelists giving up on their work completely. It’s a beautiful thought, really, that the world is working collectively toward a better, more productive, artistic-filled reality. NaNoWriMo teaches the rewards of productivity and perseverance.
If you want it badly enough, you’ll fight like hell to get it. That is what NaNoWriMo is all about.
If you want more tips on how to make this month the month you write your novel, check out the NaNoWriMo website.
Bree Crowder has her B.A. and a post-graduate certificate in English and creative writing. Her work has been reviewed by HarperCollins editors, which was the coolest moment ever. She is currently freelance writing and editing, and interning with a literary agency. Above all else she loves writing and the unique connection it encourages. You can follow Bree on her blog and Twitter.