9 Reasons Why You Should Do Nanowrimo
Nanowrimo aka National Novel Writing Month aka nano is about to start. It's an internet challenge thousands of hopeful writers take part in every November when they set out to write 50,000 words in 30 days. If you’d told me ten years ago that I could write a novel in a month I would have laughed. But writing a novel this way isn’t as crazy as it sounds*. Not only is it possible it’s a great way of getting words on the page.
Here are 9 reasons why:
- Discipline. Words don’t write themselves and despite our good intentions we don’t always write daily. The nano target is 50,000 words, starting November 1 and typing the last word on November 30. That’s around 1700 words per day. It means you have to sit your butt down and write every day. It forces you into a writing routine. And that’s good for your writing.
- Speed. Writing fast helps block your inner critic. Unless you’re uber-talented you won’t write an award winning novel in the first draft and doing Nano forces you to let go of the illusion that you will. Some of the sentences you write will be gold, some will be crap. But that’s okay because this is a first draft and will be revised later.
- Flow.There’s something about writing fast that gets you into a flow. It’s like running, swimming, anything that gets you out of your head and into ‘the zone’. And being in a flow helps you find your writing voice. You don’t have time to stop and start trying to work out if your sentences are perfect (see above). And yet writing fast helps you tap into your creativity so later on when you finish and read over what you’ve written you’ll be amazed at some of the sentences you did come up with.
- Process.Writing is a process. Starting with a first draft. Then a first revision, second revision, third … and so on until it’s as good as it’s going to get. The 50,000 words you write for Nanowrimo will be a very basic first draft, the bones of your story. You can put the muscle and flesh on later but at least you’ll have the skeleton. And it will only take you thirty days.
- Story.Sitting down to write every day with the aim of getting to the end fast forces you to come up with a plot. You might not start with one but you’ll have one at the end. Even if you start with a only vague idea asking yourself ‘what happens next’ will allow you to plot your story as you write. When you’re stuck a good mantra is ‘make things worse’. It’s sure to put your characters into some tricky situations and give you something to bounce off next time you sit down to write.
- Camaraderie. Like I said, thousands of writers participate in the nano challenge every year. You can log on and link up with writing buddies old and new, follow each other’s progress, inspire each other and help each other out if things aren’t going to plan. Nano might be web-based but most writing centers have write-ins during November and members can meet up to do writing sprints together and treat themselves to a well earned chat and coffee (or alternative beverage) afterwards. Writing can be a lonely pursuit so having a bunch of writing buddies to share the trials and tribulations makes a nice change.
- Cool tools.The lovely organisers of Nano have come up with a bunch of helpful things to help you track your writing journey. You can upload a cover of your book created by your good self. This is a great way of visualizing the finished product. There’s the daily word count tally where you can watch the numbers increase, and my personal favourite the graph that shows you how far above – or below - the daily word count you are. Being way over certainly makes you feel good about yourself but it’s when you fall behind that the graph really kicks your butt.
- Help. Similar but not the same as point 6. Not only will you get help from your writing buddies but there’s plenty of assistance available in the form of regular email from the nano team, the No Plot, No Problem guide written by Nano founder Chris Baty, and there’s plenty of help out there in internet-land in the form of blog posts written by nano winners. If you get stuck, ask google for help and you will receive. You are not alone.
9. Words on the page.If the worst happens and you have to abandon ship for whatever reason at least you have words on the page. A few thousand, 25,000 maybe even 36,000. You have something you can work with later. This has happened to me a few times but each time I’ve gone back when life has calmed down and finished the book. It’s frustrating but some words are better than no words10. Crossing the finish line. Okay, this is number 10, I know. But I couldn’t end without telling you freakin good you are going to feel about yourself if you do get to type the end after those 50,000 words have flown from your fingers. You set out to do something and you did it! And you now have a novel to work on once all the Christmas decorations are put away until next year. You made it to the end, you crossed the line. You wrote a book and didn’t just talk about it, or think about it. And that’s something to be proud of.Good luck!Pam x *My first published novel Blackwattle Lake was a 2009 Nano novel. Essie's Way my second published book also began life as a nano novel. You can find out more my books on my author website.
We'd love to hear about your Nano experiences, past and present. Drop us a line over on our Facebook page or leave us something in the comments. And if you are doing Nano this year let us know how it goes.