NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, for those who are not acquainted, is held every November. Participants write a 50,000-word novel within November’s 30 days.
I tried participating in this for the first time last year. I had a concept in mind that I loved and I was so ready. Then I my computer crashed and I lost thousands of words of my draft. But I was determined and I started over. Then my hard drive crashed and I lost everything. My rewritten manuscript, my outline, my character sketches. I took this as a sign that this book was not meant to be and gave up.
I started a new manuscript but opted out of the rest of NaNoWriMo. After putting in an hour before work on weekdays since December, I now have over 30,000 words in it now. A standard genre novel word count is about 75,000 to 100,000, by the reports I’ve seen. So if I complete NaNoWriMo, I should have a completed first draft by the end. Groovy.
Some people get down on NaNoWriMo because of the just-crank-it-out, quantity-over-quality approach. After all, writing a novel is often compared to running a marathon, and NaNoWriMo treats it like a sprint.
But there’s something to be said for just sitting down and doing it. It forces me to spend more time with my story than I ever have before. And more importantly, it forces me to turn off my inner critic so I can let the story flow out of me without getting hung up. You just sit down and do it.
There’s a lot of power to just-do-it. You immerse yourself in the process, get words on the page and let judgment take a break. What more could you possibly ask for in a first draft? The review process is a necessary part of the process anyway. Why not take those dark winter months and hunker down with your creation?
This Writer’s Digest article is a great place to start to get mentally prepared for the NaNoWriMo experience.
Bonus round: the Writer’s Digest Are You a Word Nerd? quiz.
Have you ever NaNoWriMo’d? Are you doing it this year? What do you think of it?