November 1. For most, it is a completely innocuous date, the beginning of the eleventh month, four weeks until Thanksgiving, 54 days until Christmas. But, for many writers around the world, however, it marks the beginning of National Novel Writing (or Writers) Month (NaNoWriMo), a frenzied, no-holds-barred experiment in ambition and endurance that many attempt but far fewer achieve. This writer is taking an official year away from the NaNoWriMo shark tank after five years attempting to focus on other endeavors but hope, through this column, to offer some encouragement, push, peer pressure and cheerleading to my fellow writers who are diving in, either again or for the first time.
What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is centered around the idea that, in churning out 1667 words every day through the month of November, one can feasibly complete a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days (sound insane? Then take a look at this site: 3daynovel.com). No one (should) expect to be finished with their novel at midnight on November 30, just done. The meat of the story should be out of your head and onto the paper. The unofficial motto of NaNoWriMo is November is for writing, December is for rewriting.
Outside of the frenzied writing exercise, there are whole communities centered around NaNoWriMo. Specifically, NaNoWriMo.org, the home and headquarters of all things NaNo. Through the main site, writers can keep track of word counts, network with other writers both in their geographical area and in the genre of their novel, as well as participate in distractive activities such as word games, trivia, even CD swaps. Additionally, there are Facebook and Twitter groups devoted to the activity, iPhone and Android apps and many other things writers can find to distract themselves from their 1,667 word per day goal. In many cases, the answer to the question why NaNoWriMo is simply the development of community and community support, as well as the public accountability of sharing individual word counts.
How to NaNoWriMo?
There is no one sure fire way to succeed at NaNoWriMo. In fact there are countless tips and tricks for “how to NaNoWriMo,” all depending on who you ask. The best thing I can offer is to keep an eye on this space for tips, tricks, exercises and prompts to help you get through to 50k and to November 30.