What is NaNoWriMo

So, yesterday, I posted saying that I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo next month. I realized after the fact that I didn’t tell you what NaNoWriMo is.

The easiest way to find out is to go here. That is the official NaNoWriMo site.

However, I’m going to assume that you want to hear about what I think it is, and keep on rambling until I run out of things to say on the subject.

NaNoWriMo stands for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. It happens every year in November. It is a challenge. Your goal is to start a new novel and get at least 50,000 words written on it during the month. Everything is self-verified, and so you really get out of it what you put into it.

Some people, quite fairly, ignore the “new novel” guideline. Instead, they continue working on whichever project they are currently working on, with the goal of adding 50,000 words to the project. If your novels are longer, or you are currently in the middle of a project, and think your writing process would be disrupted if you stopped writing on your current project for a month to write on the new one, then continue work on the old one. That’s perfectly fine. Also, many authors who do this already have a contract for a book, and can’t afford to stop working on it to start work on something else. That is, perhaps, the most valid excuse there is.

I, personally, don’t have a contract, nor do I have any current long-term projects that this would be interrupting, so I’m planning to start a new novel. I talked a little yesterday about my planning for this one.

But why would anyone want to do this insanity? If you’re sticking with it, that’s 1,667 words per day, or so, just to meet the minimum. That can take 1.5-3 hours, depending on your writing speed out of your day. Every day. It can be an incredible time sap.

I do it for a few reasons. First, the companionship. I made friends last time, and I know I’ll make more this time. I’m looking forward to doing so, and these are valuable friends. They’ve been through the same furnace you have. Keep them. Treasure them.

I also do it to… WRITE! Yes, surprise surprise. I do it to drive myself to start a new project, instead of piddling around and writing blog posts half of the days for my daily writing goals, and instead, focus on fiction writing every day for an entire month. I may not come out of it with a completed novel (I honestly hope I don’t. I want to write much longer projects.), but I will come out of it with 50,000 words on a new project. They are not going to be great words. But if you are forever agonizing over first draft words, trying to make them great, you’ll never finish anything. Right now, I’m still a new author. I want to write a few more novels before I start really digging in and trying to revise the ones I’ve already written. I want to improve my craft more by writing more, because I know there’s still a lot of improvement for me to make in that direction. Once I start to hit diminishing returns in that direction, then I’ll switch to editing, and make improvements there. I’m looking forward to being able to do so, and have a stack of novels to work on editing. But for now, before all that, I want to write a bunch of novels, and NaNoWriMo is great at helping me do that.

I do it for the feeling of satisfaction. It’s an incredible goal. It can seem insurmountable. It can seem crazy. But it is possible. People do it every year. I did it in July. I know I can do it again. And when you do it, and you finish that book, even if you know it’s not all that great, well… Having a finished novel on your computer, beginning to end, completely written out, BY YOU AND YOU ALONE… It’s one of the greatest single feelings on this planet. You have created this work of art. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is yours, and it was worth it. I love that feeling; I’ve had it twice now. I crave that feeling. I’m doing NaNo to achieve that feeling again.

So yes. Those are some of my reasons for doing NaNo next month, in the middle of the insanity that is university life. Why are you doing it, dear readers?

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