National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a creative writing challenge that challenges writers to finish the first draft of a 50,000 word manuscript during the month of November. To finish a novel in 30 days, writers need to write about 1,667 words per day. Every day of the month of November. Even on Thanksgiving. It’s daunting, but exhilarating.
Here are the rules: writers are not allowed to start writing the story before November 1st and the story must be finished by November 30th at 11:59 pm. Planning is permitted, as long as none of the story is written before November 1st. There are the Planners for NaNoWriMo (the writers who create outlines, character profiles, setting notes, world building notes, etc.) before November 1st and there are Pants-ers (writers who “fly by the seat of their pants” and start the project on November 1st with little to no pre-planning.) Neither is better than the other, and some writers wind up being a mix of both. I think the only wrong answer is to try and make yourself one or the other, when you’re naturally not. NaNoWriMo is about doing what you know works for YOU to complete a story, albeit in a VERY tight timeline 🙂
The first thing I did when challenged by a friend to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge, was to research some basic information on NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo was started by a writer in the San Francisco area in 1999. NaNoWriMo grew from that first group of writers in San Francisco to a global community of writers who take on the challenge every November. Anyone is free to sign up for NaNoWriMo by creating a profile on their website. Once you’ve signed up and created a profile, you can update your word count everyday of November until the end of the month. You CAN donate to NaNoWriMo, and if you want to look at the things they do with donations please check out their website, but you DO NOT HAVE to donate to NaNoWriMo to participate.
As someone who is not making any financial gains with my writing at this moment, this was a critical point. I weigh every decision I make about where I put financial support into my writing very carefully. My husband and my family support me, as we all support each of our individual passions, but I won’t let my writing become a financial burden on my family. I enjoyed participating in NaNoWriMo last year, and I look forward to continually participating in the challenge, but it was and is important that it not require financial backing to participate. Very, very important.
The second thing I did after I signed up at NaNoWriMo and created a profile, was to go to google and search: HOW DO I WRITE A 50,000 WORD MANUSCRIPT IN THIRTY DAYS?!?!?! Seriously. Writing 1,667 words a day wasn’t what I was looking for in that search. I was looking for tips and tricks to making 1,667 words a day for thirty days into a complete story. I wanted advice about how others tracked their story line, character relationships/family trees, world building notes, setting details, plot points, etc as they wrote everyday and kept track of where they were going and how they were getting there. Most of the articles I found were on the planner vs. pants-er debate. I found a few articles listing resources that looked helpful and decided on one book to buy for this first round of NaNoWriMo. And it has become one of THE books I use in outlining when I’m stuck and need a jumpstart from the musings in my brain on a story, to getting that story onto the page. That resource is Fast Fiction:A Guide to Outline and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days by Denise Jaden. It is a FANTASTIC resource. If you’ve never taken the challenge and want something for guidance, I highly recommend this book. The first part of the book has exercises to follow before starting the thirty days of NaNoWriMo to help in planning your story. The second part of the book has a writing prompt for EVERY DAY of the thirty days of NaNoWriMo to help inspire you’re writing. It’s worth every penny of the fifteen dollars and more. I sent a copy of it to my sister when she finally admitted to me that she was also putting her stories on the page. 🙂
This past week I created a blank document for NaNoWriMo 2018 in Scrivener and pulled my copy of Fast Fiction off the bookshelf. I also worked on manuscript number 1, although I didn’t finish it. I’m going to work on it this week a little, and then set it aside officially until December. The rest of this week will be for more NaNoWriMo prep.
Who’s taking on NaNoWriMo this year?!?! What have you done so far for prep or are you more of a pants-er?