Write Your Book in 30 Days
NaNoWriMo is mere days away — but can you really write a novel in a month?
National Novel Writing Month
For those of you who’ve never heard of such a thing, I can assure you, it’s very real. And it’s nearly here.
Known very affectionately as NaNoWriMo amongst its devotees on social media and elsewhere, National Novel Writing Month is exactly what it sounds like: a full month dedicated to writing your novel. Anyone can sign up and is then challenged (and very cheerfully encouraged!) to put 50,000 words to paper within 30 days.
To some, this figure seems outrageous. Who has time for an endeavor like that?
To others, that number could almost be reasonable. Less than 2,000 words per day? Sure, why not?
And to those of us crazy enough to actually try it for ourselves…
It is a test of endurance as much as it is a test of creativity.
But what is it?
National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a simple project — to see if writing a book in a month really can be done.
And, as it turns out, that was exactly the kind of motivation a lot of writers needed.
Now, twenty years later, this community and literacy oriented non-profit (with the help of their nearly 1,000 worldwide volunteers) supports over 300,000 novel writing participants as well as their many Young Writers’ Program and Camp NaNoWriMo participants as well. No longer is this simply a “national” endeavor to influence and encourage writing fluency. It’s a global marathon-meets-support-group for writers of all kinds.
Free to join (though donations and the purchase of merchandise are, of course, more than welcome in order to keep the lights on), NaNoWriMo brings together “buddies” to act as a writer’s test readers, friends, and online cheerleaders as well as constructive critics. It plans local events and meetings from writing kick offs at coffee houses to library get togethers. Inspirational messages are sent, forums asking for a little companionable brainstorming are started, word counts are updated, and badges of honor are earned — every achievement from your first 5,000 words to your first post in a forum is cause for celebration to the Wrimos.
The Twitter Word Sprints account, though, is a personal favorite. Who could resist such a cheery “go team” mentality, especially when deep in the trenches of a supporting character’s subplot?
People actually do this?
But who, you might ask, would be attracted to something like this? Who would really give a month’s worth of their ideas and time and effort and headaches and plot holes and mind maps to something like this?
Rainbow Rowell fans will recognize Fangirl. Anyone who follows the championing of the self-publishing industry has surely heard about WOOL by Hugh Howey. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern…
They all began as NaNoWriMo projects.
Not only can it be done, it can be good. It can be completed! It can one day see a binding and a cover and an ISBN. It can lead you to write a series or introduce you to an editor. It can inspire you to finally query an agent or even just push you to (gasp!) share your writing with others.
And so very worth it.
Real talk, though…
Obviously, you’re not going to edit the whole darn thing and have it published within the thirty days. That is, as they say, a whole other beast.
But your ideas have flowed and your words are on paper! Your creativity has blossomed and your commitment to your project is clear!
NaNoWriMo participants who even manage to cross the 50,000 word mark are congratulated as WINNERS and are immediately offered access to proofreading services, discounts on book layout programs, and a seemingly endless host of other resources that can help them with the next steps of seeing their story come to life.
As a NaNoWriMo winner, you can print yourself a certificate, treat yourself to an ice cream, and look back on a month full of uplifting support and kindness. You can keep in touch with your new advanced readers’ copy critics and gather throughout the year at your new favorite writing cafe.
But even if you don’t finish, even if you stop at 40,000 words (heck, even if you stop at 400 words)…
You can still treat yourself to an ice cream, keep in touch, and look back on a great month.
Because sometimes, it really is nice to spend time amidst people who are just nice to each other for no other reason than that they are all writers, and writing together.
Almost as nice as finally starting your book.