It’s November once again and that means three things to me. One: My mother’s birthday. Two: Thanksgiving. Three: NaNoWriMo. And not particularly in that order, haha. National Novel Writing Month is on its way but that doesn’t mean it is too late for you to sign up. How about you read and share this post and let me know if you’ve decided to participate this year. We could be writing buddies! I can’t wait to read some of your amazing work!
What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It is a worldwide phenomena that started when two friends dared each other to write a novel in a month. They shared it with their friends and so on and now, now it is everywhere. It raises awareness about the importance of creative outlets, gives everyone the opportunity to write their own story and builds confidence on six continents (I don’t think many people are writing on Antarctica nowadays. And the best part is, you don’t have to have a plot to sit down and start writing. But it does help!
Is it free?
Yes. NaNoWriMo is a free service, just like its affiliate programs, Camp NaNoWriMo (a lighter version of NaNo in which you set your goals) and the Young Writers Program (an amazing initiative that helps youth build on their creativity). You can make donations and buy awesome merchandise however, if you so choose.
Who is it for?
NaNoWriMo is for everyone! Whether you are published or have never thought about writing a novel until last Tuesday, you can be a part of the NaNo community. And let me tell you that it is a community. NaNo is suited for all genres of writing and while it might say “novel” in the name, you can write whatever you wish. Last year, my project was a short story collection.
How can I get started?
Just go to NaNoWriMo.com and sign up. Put it your zip code and it’ll link you to a home region, meaning that there are others in your area that are also participating and you guys can become writing buddies and help each other out. Now, I can’t say for sure if the home region idea works as well outside of the U.S. but you can be buddies with someone regardless of borders. All you have to do is go to their page and hit the “Add as Buddy” button. I usually try to add people who are working in a similar genre. How can you find this out? Forums.
Forums on NaNoWriMo are awesome. You can find encouragement, buddies, people who can be in a future book club, amazing graphic designers (who may design a cover for you if you ask nicely) and more!
Sign up! Give your novel a title and a brief description and you are on your way!
I don’t know if I can write 50,000 words in a month…
I didn’t quite make it to 50,000 words but I did get pretty close, coming in at over 41,000. And that is by far the closest I’ve come yet and I have been doing NaNoWriMo for while. According to the experts, to reach the goal of 50,000 words you have to write 1,667 words per day in the month of November. For some, that may be a lot. We all lead busy lives but that can be planning towards your work as well.
In fact, I didn’t realize it until this year, but as a self-proclaimed “plantser” (someone who both maps out and kind of wings it a bit) I write a lot of character backstory, setting, chapter outlines, etc. before I even begin writing the story. I would have gotten a lot closer to my goals if I would have thought to include that in my word count.
What I am trying to say is that you shouldn’t let word count scare you away from starting what could be the most fun thing you’ve ever done.
Has a NaNo book ever been published?
Are you kidding? Ever heard of Marissa Meyer? Author of Cinder and all those other amazing YA books that I have read a million times? That series started out as a NaNo project. There is also The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and many more. Who knows, your project can lead to you becoming a published author. Now wouldn’t that be something?
Does NaNo provide any help?
Of course! From Facebook groups to Twitter chats, there are dozens of places out there where you can get help and support as you take on your novel (or chapbook or screenplay or short story collection. There are YouTube videos and podcasts, local writers who get together and write as a group. Check out the hashtag below and you might see something happening in your neighborhood.
In addition to that, there is a podcast hosted by She Writes, a community of women writers across the globe. There is even an online writing course sponsored by Wesleyan University. You won’t be left by your lonesome if you decide to take the step into becoming a writer. And guess what, that’s all it is. Poet Terri Witek once told me, “You’re an artist.” It wasn’t about having the phone number of Penguin’s top editor on speed dial or having five publications under your belt. It’s about taking that very first step. So, are you an artist? Take a look at all of their amazing resource library made up with tips by published authors here.
Outlines, character sketches, even having a writing partner is okay! There are no rules to this.
More to Know.
There are all kinds of cool things that you get from participating. NaNo is sponsored by some amazing organizations. Here’s a list of the things you may receive:
50% off of a Scrivener subscription for winners and 20% for participants.
50% off a Dabble sub for winners and 20% for participants. Check out my earlier post Dabble or Scrivener? Writing Software Made Plain.
Free Dropbox Paper subscription.
One free writing class with CreativeLive!
You can upload your book and revise it for FREE on IngramSpark between Nov 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019. That means you can self-publish!
50% an AutoCrit subscription. I use AutoCrit along with my beta readers to catch those mistakes that I don’t notice.
For a small fee Litograph will put your words on a scarf. That means you’ll have a bookish scarf of your own book! I don’t know about you but I think that is pretty amazing.
Many, many more! Check out the website sponsor offers yourself.
Now, I have already declared my novel for this year, took some time to add writing buddies and have beta readers thanks to the wonderful people at Scribophile. You can do the same, or you can plot out a novel for next year after dipping your toe in the water. That’s what’s fun about NaNoWriMo, there is no judgement, everyone has their own goal and your support system is huge! So, all I can say is—
P.S. If you decide to be my writing buddy, just look up my name and add me. I always add back!