For the uninitiated, you’re probably looking at the title of this post and wondering what the heck is NaNoWriMo? For those in the know—I’d say hip, but I’m definitely not hip—that’s shorthand for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo occurs every November, and it’s a celebration of writing with a challenge for all those who wish to participate: write a short novel (50,000 words) in a month.
I first heard about NaNoWriMo three years ago. I was only writing sporadically at the time, and I thought it would be an interesting way to motivate me to write more often and more consistently. So I tried it, and I did it. I didn’t write a complete novel, but I did write over 53,000 words that month (I finished the novel six months later). More importantly, I found it exhilarating, and I managed to carry that writing-high into the next calendar year (albeit at a slower rate) and beyond. In a sense, that first NaNoWriMo event got me on track to be where I am today.
I’ve since participated and finished NaNoWriMo two more times. The second time I didn’t write a novel; instead I wrote several short stories that totaled over 51,000 words. These have all been making the rounds for the last year or so, and I still have my fingers crossed that they’ll eventually sell. For last year’s NaNoWriMo, I wrote more than half of another science-fiction novel, the one I’m dedicated to finishing as part of my writing goals for this year. I’ve decide for this year’s NaNoWriMo I will finish that novel.
For aspiring writers, I’d suggest giving NaNoWriMo a try, especially if you’re having trouble focusing on writing consistently. It doesn’t cost anything, and there’s a large community to help keep you motivated (if you need that sort of thing). If you come at it with an open mind, you may just find the whole process of putting words on the screen without over-analyzing them to be liberating. I did, and it fundamentally changed the way I approach my writing. So check it out, and let me know if you’re going to give it a try.