NaNoWriMo: What is It?

National Novel Writing Month Starts in November. Graphic by Alex Morgan.

I was surprised when a professor and a friend of mine brought NaNoWriMo to my attention. As a hopeful writer and an editor, I relish the chance to get a little practice and NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity for anyone who enjoys writing or wants to start.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It starts on the first of November, a date that is rapidly approaching. It is a month-long frenzy of writing just to write. The basic premise is this: writers from all over the world will be writing a novel of at least 50,000 words before the end of November.

Before you say that NaNoWriMo sounds like a way to an early death, hear me out. NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing something good, or something that is ready for the world. It is simply about writing. Let’s face it: a lot of us writers procrastinate. NaNoWriMo is an excuse to sit down and write it out. If you don’t reach the goal of 50,000 words, then oh well. You’ve started a novel, and you have some extra practice under your belt. I didn’t even get 10,000 words last year.

NaNoWriMo isn’t about quality; it’s about volume. Your job is simply to crank out as much of a novel as you can. For the most part, you can write about anything. Say you’ve got a brilliant fan fiction burning a hole in your mind. Just start writing on November 1st and see how far you get. Each week you receive encouraging e-mails from various writers. I saved one from my favorite author, who happened to be one of the writers as well. This year, a few of the ‘pep-talkers’ include Lemony Snicket, Mercedes Lackey and Holly Black, among others.

If you are interested in NaNoWriMo, sign up on their website. Then, when November rolls around, you can submit your novel as you write it to the mechanical word counters. They offer a scramble feature so you can keep your novel secret if you like. Your word count total gets added to the region you are registered with to see how much each region writes.

It might seem hard, but it really is a lot of fun. As college students, of course, your exams and school work are important and should come first. But even people busy with life can give it a try. Who knows, when you’re finished, you might have a diamond in the rough, something that, with a little refinement, will one day be a published book. If you don’t finish, that’s fine too. You still have something that you can go back to, and practice, which is extremely important to all writers. Like the website says on their “How NaNoWriMo Works” page: “Win or lose, you rock for even trying.”

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