Today marks yet another Monday, and we are about 17 days away from November 1st. For many writers, the beginning of November marks the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). During the 30 days of November, participants in this challenge work towards writing at least 50,000 words.
People (and not all writers) have mixed feelings about NaNoWriMo. Some people roll their eyes at the idea of thousands of people across the world attempting to plug away at writing ferociously for 30 days and then getting back to their “normal” lives. Some writers think NaNoWriMo is for people who are not serious about the craft, as they have beliefs about when and how “real writers” go about their work. Additionally, there is apparently a huge surplus in manuscripts submitted to agents in the months following NaNoWriMo, which could be understandably frustrating for these readers. If the texts have not been edited and polished before being sent over, this certainly could eat away at agents’ time.
I, however, adore the concept of NaNoWriMo. An entire month of writing groups and all-around writing excitement is a dream come true. It is rare that I get to talk with strangers about writing of any kind, especially my writing, and being able to connect with other writers and find online materials to help me with my writing process is wonderful.
I have seriously attempted NaNoWriMo once before and only made it to 20,000 words, but even with that “failed” experience, I learned a lot about myself, my writing habits, and importantly, that I had at some point built up a wall around my writing.
One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it teaches writers to write without that wall, or shield, around them. Trying to write 50,000 words in a month is no simple task and does not often leave time for editing or revising. Therefore, participants have to write uninhibited, not having time to think whether they are “qualified” or “good” enough to be doing so, while not getting bogged down by split infinitives and other general silliness.
This year, a fellow writing friend and I are holding each other accountable during NaNoWriMo. We met this past weekend for a writing/planning session, and I bounced around a couple of ideas for what I wanted to focus on for my project.
After scrawling out an impromptu pros and cons list for each of my ideas, I realized I was most excited about having another go at the fantasy story I originally wanted to do for NaNoWriMo a few years ago. I had encountered several roadblocks at the time and am thus going into November 2019 with a few changes up my sleeve, notably:
- My character is now going to be 19. I originally set out to make the story a middle grade novel but felt like that wasn’t working after all in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure.
- I am going to do some outlining this year. I suppose it was a bold move to attempt 50,000 words with a handful of skeleton characters and one basic plot idea, as I ended up struggling with worldbuilding all while under the pressure of the NaNoWriMo daily word count. I have been exploring different novel outlining options and am currently planning to go with Method 4: More Structure, Please: Save the Cat! 3 Acts / 15 Beats, as detailed in the free, downloadable NaNo Prep 101 Handbook.
- I bought a subscription to Scrivener, a software specifically designed for writers. I used the trial version during my last NaNoWriMo session but never purchased the full version. This morning, I bought my $36 subscription for Windows. Scrivener offers a 20% NaNoWriMo discount, so you can save $9 with the discount code NANOWRIMO. (I know, I know – I sound like a saleswoman, but I am completely unaffiliated with Scrivener. As a writer on a budget, I just love spreading the word about good writing deals!)
I am incredibly excited to jump into my project and will be spending the rest of October gathering ideas about my characters and where I want them to go in my book. Keep checking back for details about my NaNoWriMo experience, and I would love to hear about yours as well in the comments section! Otherwise, feel free to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how your own project is going.