Writing Advice: On NaNoWriMo


Though I have written many times about the topic contained in today’s post, I know in my heart of hearts that some of you will never attempt it. I know that it sounds insane and that it actually doesn’t make sense to some people. Some people consider this to be anathema to their way of writing. Some people consider it to be a ploy to get first-time writers to believe they can write something good in a short space of time. Well, you’re free to think all of that. But personally, I adore the 30-day insanity that is National Novel Writing Month.

Because it is now October, I feel somewhat obligated to write this pitch yet again. National Novel Writing Month is a dare that you give to yourself. When you sign up for the website and decide to undertake the challenge, you’re essentially daring yourself that you can write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. That’s the goal and that’s what everyone on the website is working toward. Once you’ve written those 50,000 words and have had them verified before midnight on November 30, you have the first draft a novel that you can do anything you like with. You can chuck it in the garbage, you can laugh about how horrible it is, you can share it with friends and family, and you can lock it away in a cupboard. Or you can revise it and make it into something you’re proud of.

In any case, NaNoWriMo — as it is abbreviated — is not for the faint of heart. Well, actually it is. NaNoWriMo is basically for everyone. You can try it out and quit after a few days. You can try it out, get busy in the middle of the month, and stop writing. The only thing forcing you to keep writing to reach that 50,000-word goal is that dare that you gave yourself earlier. No one is going to hunt you down if you don’t finish, and no one is going to scold you for not finishing. Everything about NaNoWriMo is entirely up to you.

Of course, it helps to have friends. You’re able to find a home “region” on the website and those folks will likely set up meetings to write and discuss NaNoWriMo “in real life.” Having that support group can be really helpful if you’re trying to get your word count for the day finished (1,667 words, by the way) or if you just want to be around like-minded people who are just as crazy as you are.

NaNoWriMo is, by all accounts, an insane pursuit. But it’s also incredibly fun. And what is writing if not one big risk? Why not add in something truly insane that really isn’t a risk to you at all? I love NaNoWriMo and I encourage you all to give it a try, if you’re willing and able. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the craziness on their website.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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