NaNoWriMo is an abbreviation of National Novel Writing Month is a non-profit writing event held every November where participants attempt to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in exactly 30 days. There’s also a more informal version of the event every April and July called Camp NaNoWriMo which expands the challenge to scripts, non-fiction, memoirs and other projects while offering variable word count goals. There was also a sister event called Script Frenzy (nicknamed Screnzy) which was retired in 2012 where participants could write scripts, screenplays, comics and more.
A participant since 2002 and an ML for both Screnzy and NaNoWriMo since 2010, this is my guide to the world of NaNo.
It’s a brand new year which means it’s the traditional time of setting new goals and resolutions for the year ahead. For us writers, that can mean setting deadlines or striving for new writing habits in the coming year. I think taking a few minutes to write down concrete goals is a great way to keep you focused on what’s important to you as you move into the next few months. “But, Hillary, statistics show that New Year’s Resolutions don’t work!” you protest. “People just abandon them after a few...read more
I know I’ve said this before but I can’t express to you how glad I am that I changed my writing year so that it ends in November. I made this change on a whim back in 2014 and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made for both my writing goals and general mental health. It also took a ton of pressure off the already crazy end of the year. I mention this because the calendar doesn’t own you either. Companies can set their own fiscal years, there’s no reason you can’t do the same for whatever your goals are....read more
The following is an excerpt from NaNo What Now? Finding your editing process, revising your NaNoWriMo book and building a writing career through publishing and beyond Available now in paperback and eBook. To the writer that finished what you set out to write, You are a rock star! You did everything you set out to do this month. You’ve got a complete first draft in your hand right now, a whole book, and if lots of people never start a novel, and less than that ever write 50,000 words of one, the number that actually finish an entire book is...read more
The following is an excerpt from NaNo What Now? Finding your editing process, revising your NaNoWriMo book and building a writing career through publishing and beyond Available now in paperback and eBook. To the writer that reached their word count target but didn’t finish their story yet, It was such a tremendous high to hit that word count goal, wasn’t it? It doesn’t matter how many NaNoWriMo challenges I’ve done, there’s nothing like the rush of setting and crushing a goal—of committing to do something and doing it. Boom! You’re feeling...read more
The following is an excerpt from NaNo What Now? Finding your editing process, revising your NaNoWriMo book and building a writing career through publishing and beyond Available now in paperback and eBook. To the writer that finished neither their NaNoWriMo project nor reached the 50,000 words, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo since 2002, and from 2002 until 2007, I lost every single year. Two of those years, I wrote less than 5,000 words. For one, I signed up and then wrote exactly zero words, and I don’t even have a good excuse for why. I...read more
I’m a volunteer with NaNoWriMo and it always amazes me how many participants are completely shocked to learn that NaNoWriMo isn’t completely flush with cash because everyone’s heard of them, haven’t they? It’s easy to get the idea in your head that supporting an organization by retweeting or clicking like on their posts, talking them up to family and friends or even just by feeling super affectionate toward them somehow translates to monetary support but that simply isn’t true. The fact is, NaNoWriMo is a...read more
At the moment I’m writing this, I’m 42,488 words behind on my goal for NaNoWriMo. On my lesser goal? I’m 24,772 words behind. Yeesh. That’s a big deficit. And if I can’t hit my goal, what’s the point of writing anymore at all? It would be much nicer to just take the holiday weekend off. On a normal year with my normal writing time available to me, making up those numbers would be no big deal. But absolutely nothing about this November has been normal. I’m terrified by current events with news getting...read more
I had a pep talk all ready for this week that was your standard NaNoWriMo stuff but I scrapped it because we’ve had anything but a standard NaNoWriMo this year and it’s silly to ignore the elephant in the room. (Pun intended.) How can I be all “Rah rah, writing!” when we’ve just had an election that threw the entire nation in turmoil? Many people are in a state close to grieving while others are living in fear and uncertainty for the future. It’s more than just distracting, it can be all-consuming, and...read more
You’re working on your novel. You’re writing away and the words are flowing great and then it hits you. The doubt. You have no idea where you were going with this. The characters are all stupid. What made you think you could pull this off? You’re just so sick of this story. More than that, you’re sick of this whole writing process. Why should you give up another night to this boring book nobody’s going to ever want to read anyway? What was easy writing before is now like pulling teeth and the thought of walking...read more
Back in the day, I used to work for one of NaNoWriMo’s sponsors. We were encouraged to sign up for NaNoWriMo and try to participate so we understood what the event was about when customers came to us with questions. I dutifully signed up and joked about writing a novel in a month with co-workers but never wrote so much as a word year after year. But 2007 was different. While the process of signing up wasn’t any different than any past year, it felt different to me because this time I was really going to write 50,000 words in 30...read more