Discuss: NaNoWriMo


On Friday of this week I will begin my seventh National Novel Writing Month endeavor. Yes, that’s right, for seven years now I’ve spent the month of November writing like a crazy person (although I did skip 2008 for various reasons). For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month (or, NaNoWriMo), is a writing challenge that began as a web-based community. It still is, largely, a web-based community, but you can also find writers in your area to become “affiliated” with. Anyway, the main objective of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words of a novel in the 30 days of November. Does it sounds insane? Yes, of course it does. But, is it doable? It absolutely is. I’ve won every time I’ve attempted the challenge, and winning just means you made it to 50,000 words by the end of the month.

While I understand that NaNoWriMo is not for everyone, I can’t help but give a stump speech for it every time November rolls around. The arguments against this type of thing are understandable, but I still consider it to be an amazingly fun challenge to undertake. There are some who say a novel is not written in 30 days. I completely agree! A first draft, however, can most certainly be written in 30 days. The goal is not to write a masterpiece on the first try. It is simply to write 50,000 words of a cogent story that you’re passionate about. Technically speaking, it doesn’t even have to be cogent; you can write whatever you like. But it’s more helpful to you if you write something that can be used as a first draft.

If you are not at all interested in trying out NaNoWriMo, I totally respect that and you can stop pretending to pay attention to this post. If, however, you are interested in this endeavor, I have some tips for you:

Firstly — find a group to join. The NaNoWriMo website is a great facilitator of writing communities and allows you to affiliate with a region geographically close to you. A group of like-minded individuals all trying out this crazy thing together is far stronger than one person giving it a go.

Secondly — Once you have that community, try to attend their “write-in” events. These consist of sitting in a room with other writers and just writing for at least 3-4 hours. I can’t tell you how immensely helpful these have been to me during past NaNoWriMos.

Finally — just have fun! Yes, you want to have a workable first draft at the end of the month, but you also want to have a good time, right? Let loose, write something you’ve always wanted to write, and take the plot and characters to crazy places. Writing should be enjoyable, so let it be!

What do you think about NaNoWriMo? Have you ever tried it? Does it sound like something you would try? Or are you completely and totally opposed to the idea? All opinions welcome in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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