It’s that happy time of year again. November is here, and millions of aspiring authors are already knee-deep in novels. How do they do it? By taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge. But what does it mean to you, and should you bother?
What is NaNoWriMo?
It’s doubtful that you don’t know the answer to this question, but if you aren’t clear on what NaNoWriMo is, I should probably take a moment to explain.
NaNoWriMo is a long-running writing challenge, also known as NaNo or National Novel Writing Month. It’s organized by a non-profit organization, the Office of Letters and Lights. The challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November, which breaks down to roughly 1,667 words per day.
It’s an epic battle with your creative muse and determination. Those who participate are often referred to as WriMos. Those who win are entitled to special prizes and community prestige. Everyone covets the purple winner’s bar.
The Great Debate
The great debate about the NaNo challenge is whether or not it’s worthwhile to participate at all. Some argue that those who participate aren’t serious writers. They call participants hobbyists who just want to dump their stories on a page without properly thinking them through.
This isn’t entirely accurate, though. There is an entire section of the website dedicated to sharing the success of those who have published NaNo novels. Yes, it has happened.
Those who take up the challenge argue that it helps them have the motivation and excuse to set aside a larger chunk of time to finish the book that life has been keeping them from completing. It’s a lot easier to tell family and friends, “Hey, it’s NaNo. Don’t bother me.” than it is to tell them to leave you to your writing any other time of the year.
Sure, not everything written during NaNo is publishable. Some stories probably should never actually see the light of day in the wider world. And some people do it just for the challenge. Not everyone who participates is in it to do serious writing. Not everyone who does serious writing is in it. But that isn’t the point.
The point is, it gives you an excuse to dust off that manuscript and finish a draft already!
Is it worth it to participate?
NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone. If you are a methodical writer and like to make sure all the pieces are lining up, you may not want to take up the challenge. All it will do is frustrate you further.
If you have that idea and have started writing but either:
- can’t find the time to write, or
- let life get in the way, or
- need something to push you along
NaNoWriMo could be exactly what you need to get that novel drafted.
For most aspiring authors, finding time to write and finishing that first draft can be the hardest part of writing. One of the biggest benefits to NaNo is that it offers a community of people who will:
- encourage you to get writing,
- help you overcome hurdles in the story,
- share advice on a broad range of topics that may be helpful to you during writing (with quick response times, too).
Community can be one of the strongest motivators for anything you do in life. Why should writing be any different?
If you need help giving your novel that kick-start it needs to reach drafted completion, sign up for NaNoWriMo today. It may not be a polished piece of writing, but the first draft will be done. That’s the first step.
Do you participate already?
We would love to hear your stories about NaNo. Comment and share trials and victories you experienced during November in the past. Have a comment about Nano in general? Let us know (just keep things civil).
Welcome to National Novel Writing Month!
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