Note: If you have any desire to read this post with a soundtrack, here’s my recommendation.
When I first heard a friend talking about NaNoWriMo my reaction was approximately “Gezundheit?”
Fortunately, my friend was patient and explained the acronym:
I learned every November, writers around the world try to write an entire novel in one month…sort of. To “win” NANoWriMo you’re supposed to write 50,000 words. Fifty thousand words meets the technical definition of novel, but it’s not long enough for most publishers to take seriously. However, 50,000 words is a great start to a commercial length project.
I’ve written three first-draft novels. One began as a NaNo novel, but for the other two, timing didn’t work out. I’d compare the experience to running. If you run during a race, the group endorphins increase the excitement and make it easier to run faster. However, running is still a good workout no matter what. The same goes with novel writing. The community atmosphere of NaNo is fun, but it’s not necessary. This year, I just finished the first draft of a novel and I’m not in a place where I want to start another project. As such, my goal is to revise 50,000 words this month. If you want to follow my progress, check out my Twitter and Facebook.
Of note, NaNo is not for everyone. I tend to write fast and need to complete a lot of drafts, so for me the fast pace of the event is helpful. However, some people write slowly but probably require fewer drafts. Here’s Hugo and Locus award winning author Amar El-Mohtar talking about why NaNo is not for her.
In the end, for me, NaNoWriMo falls in the same category as almost all writing advice: it works for some people, and not for others. Do it if it works for you, but don’t feel broken if it doesn’t. And if you’re doing NaNo this year, happy writing.