Monday, April 16, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: NaNoWriMo

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

N is for National Novel Writing Month

Or NaNoWriMo for short, because it's easier to say (or not, depending on who is trying to pronounce it). This is a worldwide challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, specifically in November. Sound intriguing? You can sign up here. While this challenge is totally free, the month-long event is put on by a non-profit organization that shares the love of writing with classrooms all around the world, so donations are encouraged. 

If you've been around my blog before, you've probably heard me wax on about the wonders of NaNoWriMo. Fair warning, I'm going to do it again.

Things that are awesome about writing 50,000 words in 30 days:

You can join a region. A region is comprised of writers all around you who are also participating in this challenge. If you're looking to connect with other writers in your area for marking / accountability / support / learning how to write / guidance / advice / to find beta readers / a writers group / and pretty much anything else, this is an excellent place to start. Within your region, events will be held throughout November. These are put on by a local volunteer (aka an ML - of which I am one). Most often, these events will be in in person, but are sometimes online in a chat room. Don't scare yourself out of going to events. Are you an introverted socially awkward person who would rather stay home and not talk to new people? You'll fit right in. Go. Meet your people. Seriously. Go.

Setting goals for yourself is one thing, but being part of a group writing with the same goal, makes accountability even easier. You get nifty graphs, a progress bar, and virtual badges for meeting word goals. There are even pep talks from famous authors if you need further encouragement.

There are forums to meet more people and share ideas. I highly recommend checking these out before November strikes. Find the threads that you'll find the most helpful and/or encouraging and stick with those. The forums are like the interwebs: giant and time sucking. You should be writing first and socializing second. The forums stay up long after NaNo is over so you can hang out with people after the writing is over too.

You will find time to write. 1,667 words is your daily goal. That may sound like a crazy amount of words, but it's really not. You'd be amazed how many words you can pump out in a 10 minute word war (aka word sprint). Who knew writing could be a competitive sport? It can be, even hanging out in the chat room isn't your thing and you're only competing with yourself. Yes, there is now a word sprint tool to use when you're writing alone. This is the perfect way to spend a month finding when works best for you to write and establishing a writing habit.

You will find that you can actually write the rough draft of a novel in 30 days. It won't be easy, but it's not impossible either. I've done it 11 out of 12 times. I was building a house the one year, so I was happy that I found time to write at all.

If you've never finished a piece of long-form writing before, you'll get that elation of a goal met. It's an awesome feeling, and even more so, because you get to share it with other writers who are writing right along side you, facing the same challenges of sick kids, errands, keeping up the house, needy pets and still finding time to spend with their significant others.  

Things that are also awesome, but to keep in mind:

50,000 words is not a full novel in most cases, but it's a good start.

This is a very rough draft and because you're cranking it out in 30 days it will contain a lot of suck, but also a lot of word treasures.

Everyone writes at a different pace. One person's 10 minute word sprint of 700 words is another person's 200 word major accomplishment. You might be at 40,000 words on day 28 while someone else pounded out 50K back on day 2. Don't compare yourself to everyone else. We write a different speeds. Some people fix every typo along the way, others turn their text color off or use an unreadable font and are blissfully uncaring until December. Others take vacation or are home for thanksgiving break and have entire days to write while you are cramming in six 10 minutes sprints between running kids to sports, making meals, keeping up your house, working full time, and potty training your new puppy who doesn't sleep through the night. Your goal. Your challenge. Being competitive and motivated is good, but don't stress about how everyone else is doing.

Too busy in November? Check out Camp NaNo - a smaller scale event with your own word goal that happens twice a year. Oh look, there's one happening right now!

Have you done NaNoWriMo before?

Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.


  1. I've heard so much about NaNoWriMo and an still uncertain I could ever do anything like that. It sounds fun and all, but like a lot of work for one month. I know someone from college who has participated.

    1. It is a lot of work, but it's also a great excuse to really focus on a project for a month and make some major progress on it. I do most of my novel writing during NaNo and spend the rest of the year on smaller projects, rewriting, editing, and marketing.

  2. Hi Jean - I've heard about NaNo ... yet don't have any ideas for a novel - I guess I could do the A-Z preparations though! I can see people have value for doing it ... great N ... cheers Hilary

  3. I have done nano several times, I say nano because even the nanowrimo sounds bit too much to type. the first few times were great but then it sort of became not quite great. I think it's because I stopped joining in the groups and such. groups/forums are really part of doing nano because if you're not join in somehow, you're doing it alone and that's no fun.

    have a lovely day.

    my latest a-z is: newbie vs. pro

  4. I tried it one year and thought it a good motivational tool to show up at my comoputer and write. It lends itself to a discipline that can be sabatogued by making a more phone call, or getting the laundry started, or saying yes when you get a last minute invitation to have lunch. Finding your blog through the #Challenge, I am loving each of your posts. Full of good information and well presented. Thank You Again!


Join the conversation. It gets lonely in here without you.