You may have heard of National Novel Writing Month, an international phenomenon in which hundreds of thousands of writers make a pact with themselves and others to write 50 thousand words of a novel in the month of November.
If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, this is a great way to go. If you are ready to dive in, why not go take a look at the NaNoWriMo site right now, then come back here to finish reading about why I think NaNoWriMo is an awesome thing for aspiring novelists.
Go ahead. I’ll be here. Waiting. For you. To come back.
1. Support Can Be Beautiful
If you’ve tried to write a novel, or even a short story, you’re probably well aware that one of the biggest challenges any writer faces is the solitariness of the process. It’s scary facing that empty page all by your lonesome. But there is help available.
- The NaNoWriMo website has a great forum section where you can commiserate, ask for help, get encouragement, get research or plot, or title, or all kinds of other help, and, most importantly, know you’re not alone.
- Published authors write Pep Talks with great tips on how to reach your goals. Check those out. You may find your favorite author has left you pearls of wisdom that can help you on your way.
- NaNoWriMo has local chapters that host all kinds of events where you can hobnob with your fellow wizards and participate in write-ins that will help you keep to your daily goal of 1,664 words. One of the coolest involves riding a train from LA to San Fran (see below).
2. Critical Mass
- Somehow just knowing there are so many people out there fighting the good fight every day, flexing their imaginations, and trying to make their dreams come true during NaNoWriMo inspires me.
- If you can’t make the various local write-ins and events, you can use the forums or work with your local guides to set up a Skype or Google Hangout session with your fellow writers.
3. The Great Train Escape
I’ll describe what it is—you take a train from LA to San Fran with other WriMos (NaNoWriMo participants call themselves this). As you go, more and more WriMos get on the train with you. Apparently the train conductors find you all fascinating, as if you are some species of rare bird with bright feathers. You write and party in San Fran for a weekend and come home. Go here to read more and let the enchantment, and maybe some shots from North by Northwest or Murder on the Orient Express or Risky Business unfold in your imagination…
It’s just a personal page on the NaNoWriMo site in which you track your daily word count. It’s got a nice looking bar graph, too, but for me, on each day of the two NaNoWriMo months I have completed thus far, it became a daily obsession. Doing your daily word count and tracking it is simply such a great way to feel good about yourself. And no matter how the rest of your day is going, you have this. You did your daily 1664.
5. Swag, Discounts, the Tally and the Winner Badge
NaNoWriMo has online badges, special discounts on writing software and other goodies for those who finish, and many other little perks that add up to a big inner grin when you finish your fifty thou. You will feel hella good.
You get a deep discount on Scrivener, both the best and the worst novel writing software I know.
When I finished my first NaNoWriMo I wasn’t even halfway done with my first draft, which ran to 140 thou, but I had a massive feeling of accomplishment, and I knew I would go on to finish the whole dang thing.
So that’s my plug for the wondrous NaNoWriMo. I hope it’s helpful to all of you soon-to-be novelists out there!