For half a million writers worldwide the month of November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). As a NaNoWriMo mentor and writer it’s the highlight of my writing year. Have you considered it?
The NaNoWriMo challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days began in 1999. It’s a non-profit effort run mostly by volunteers. Writers aged 13 to 100 participate in 663 regions worldwide. Books by past participants include Rainbow Rowell’s Fan Girl, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants.
The regions are supported by mentors called Municipal Liaisons running writing events and forums online and in person. I’ve been a Municipal Liaison for nine years so hopefully I can answer your questions.
Is there a prize?
No. NaNoWrio isn’t a writing competition, it’s a creative challenge. Its benefits include discounts on writing tools, bragging rights, improved writing resume, increased creativity, finding a local writing community, and most importantly, a first draft of your book.
Does it have to be in November?
November doesn’t suit everybody. You could try Camp NaNo. It runs in April and July and is a smaller event with more flexible targets. I used it to start a short fiction collection. Others complete a novel, edit a book, or write a script – your choice.
Is there a cost?
No, it runs on writer donations.
Is it possible?
Yes, but must commit to it. Statistically 17 percent of writers finish NaNoWriMo but we’ve pushed that to 40 percent in my region thanks to advance preparation. Telling your friends and family gives you cheerleaders. Planning your plot and characters and doing some research helps you face the blank page. Scheduling two hours for writing daily will keep you on track. Freezing dinners and turning off the TV will create writing time. When struggling to meet my word count I hand the WiFi router to my husband.
Will it get me published?
No, but it’s a start. My small region now has several published writers who still participate in NaNo annually. One poet self-published her collection and runs the poetry performances in the regional arts festival. A romance novelist has her first children’s book out. A zombie-thriller writer is a national novel contest finalist. What you do with your book after NaNoWriMo is up to you, but meeting other writers is inspirational.
I get asked this often and I have many answers. Writing a book in November gives me work to edit and submit for the rest of the year. Writing daily (as Hope recommends) gives me a more professional approach to my work. NaNoWriMo encourages me to try new genres and restored the fun in my writing. I meet other writers and built a year-round network.
NaNoWriMo provides plenty of support apart from your local mentor. There’s a blog and published authors interact and inspire via #NaNoCoach. The discounts on writing tools are hand, and I enjoy my winner’s certificates and web-badges. Exclusive pep talks from bestsellers like Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, and John Green are fantastic.
First-timers worry about the deadline but shouldn’t. Even if you don’t reach 50,000 words you will definitely write more than normally that you would otherwise in November.
If you prefer to write plays, poetry or short fiction, join us anyhow. You get a cool title – NaNoRebel. If you write, you’re welcome. This November consider becoming participant 500,001.
· http://ywp.nanowrimo.org – Young Writers Programme (age 17 and under)
· http://campnanowrimo.org/about – Camp NaNo
· http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks – Exclusive Pep Talks archive
· http://blog.nanowrimo.org/ – Blog & free cover contest
· http://nanowrimo.org/sponsor-offers – Offers for winners and participants
Bio – Grace Tierney writes in rural Ireland. Her work has appeared in her newspaper column, anthologies, online media, and glossy magazines, and her book How to Get Your Name into the Dictionary. Year 2017 will be her eleventh NaNoWriMo and her ninth as ML. Contact via @Wordfoolery on Twitter or her unusual word blog http://wordfoolery.wordpress.com/.