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Ask a NaNoWriMo ML: What is a NaNo rebel? Are you one?

by Nov 5, 2015Evergreen, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)0 comments

NaNo-2015-ML-Badge-Large-SquareThis is another Frequently Asked Question I get every year. What is a NaNoWriMo rebel? How do you become one? What are the rules of being one?

Simply put, anyone who is creating their own version of the NaNoWriMo challenge instead of following the official contest rules is a NaNoWriMo rebel.

Any of the following examples could make you an NaNo rebel:

  • Writing anything other than a novel (such as a screenplay, memoir, comic book, multiple short stores, etc)
  • Writing with a partner
  • Counting words written outside of the NaNoWriMo challenge or counting them in an unusual way (For example, a comic artist aiming for a 100 page comic may decide to count each page as 500 words regardless of how many words she actually wrote for each.)

If you’re doing anything other than writing a 50,000 word novel, by yourself, you may be a rebel. So there’s no fancy process to becoming a NaNo rebel, it’s just the term for anyone who’s signed up for NaNoWriMo but isn’t actually taking the NaNoWriMo process as written. Other than that, you still sign up on the main site, participate in events and utilize all other tools and elements of National Novel Writing Month like a normal participant.

The first rule of being a NaNo rebel is that there are no rules. You’re just doing whatever you want, that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? That said, because being a rebel is often easier than taking the official NaNoWriMo challenge, some Wrimos live by a few unwritten rules of the rebel. These are a bit like the pirate code: more like a guidelines than an actual set of rules. In the end, no one is going to check up on you so do whatever feels right for the challenge you’ve created for yourself.

Here’s a few things to consider trying if you’re taking on the NaNo challenge as a rebel this year.

  • Be upfront about the fact that you’re being a rebel. There are a ton of rebels every year during NaNoWriMo so there’s no reason to hide!
  • Only count words written during the 30 days of NaNoWriMo towards your total. This one’s pretty universal. Counting those 30,000 words you wrote in October just isn’t fair to everyone else who had to start counting on November 1st.
  • Only verify as a winner if you really feel like you earned it. This one is a little tricky. Officially, unless you wrote 50,000 new words of a novel during NaNoWriMo by yourself, you aren’t a NaNoWriMo winner. Because of this, many rebels don’t go through the winner verification process even if they wrote or reported 50,000 or more words because they don’t feel it’s right to those playing by the rules. I’ve done this myself on the years I was a rebel because verifying as a winner when I hadn’t taken the same challenge as everyone else felt like cheating. Your word count bar will still show that you wrote over 50,000 words in this case, you just defer from claiming the winner goodies as an acknowledgement that you weren’t playing by the rules of the contest so you had it a little bit easier.
  • Consider making your rebel challenge harder than the normal NaNoWriMo goal to make up the difference. Despite what I just said, f you really go above and beyond to make your goal harder than the normal NaNoWriMo challenge, I personally think it would be fine for you to verify as a winner even though that’s technically against the official NaNo HQ stance. For instance, if you’re a rebel who didn’t write a novel but did write 100,000 words of a memoir in those 30 days or if you’re writing with a partner but keeping your word counts separate so you hit that 50k on your own , I would personally say to go ahead and verify as a winner because that’s a huge accomplishment and you made it doubly hard on yourself. But it’s up to you!

What you may not realize is that you’re NOT a rebel if you’re doing a rewrite or started your novel ahead of the start of the month. While this wasn’t the case in the past, they changed the rules in 2014 so now starting early is A-OK!

In the end, NaNoWriMo is a self challenge. There are official rules and adhering to them and writing your 50k make you a NaNoWriMo winner. But if you just want to tap into the community, inspiration and fun of the NaNo spirit while creating your own personal challenge, you’ll be part of the proud tradition of NaNo rebels!

Not sure if your plan’s for NaNoWriMo this year make you a rebel or not? Looking for more on doing NaNo on your own terms? Ask away below!

Rebel or not, anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year, please feel free to post any questions you have about the event below (or, if you want to be anonymous, email me) and I’d be happy to try to answer as best as I can.


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About the Author

Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.

Books and Plays by Hillary DePiano