It’s that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) happens every November. It is an opportunity for aspiring writers to try and draft a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Last year was the first time I reached that goal. Though productive, it was not easy. 2019 is Nanowrimo’s 20th year.
This November I’m trying the challenge again. Expect little to no posts over the next month as Nanowrimo will consume most of my ‘writing time’. Like 2018, I will update my progress and resume regular posting on the 1st of December. See the links below for more info.
Update 01/12/19: Finished at 12pm with 50,020 words!
Nanowrimo 2018 was a success! Over November I wrote a 50,000 word first draft of a YA novel, while working full time and maintaining a modest social life. The project consumed my spare time, and my blogging, but it was worthwhile. I wrote more in the past 30 days than I did in the past year.
- Write every day. 1,700 words a day is not difficult but the more you skip the more you will have to catch up. Once you get into a steady rhythm, writing will seem effortless. Try and get as much as you can done on the weekend, if possible.
- Don’t look back. You have all the time in the world to revise your words after November. For now focus on getting words on the page – that’s what a first draft is all about. Remember no one has to read your original Nanowrimo submission. Save agonising over sentence flow or the the perfect verb for December.
- Plan in October. When I attempted Nanowrimo in 2016 I had a vague idea of my story at best. After only the first few chapters I hit a wall, with no clue how to keep the plot rolling. This time I familiarised myself with the three act structure prior to Nanowrimo, and wrote a page long plot outline and profiles on all my major characters. It was all subject to change, sure, but the rough notion of where my story was going kept me to the end.
- Set aside time. I cannot stress this enough. On good days I was writing 1000 words an hour, but this was rare. Know yourself and your habits. If you are prone to procrastination then allow three hours a day to reach your target word counts. Stop when you feel you have written enough.
I don’t plan to read my ‘novel’ until January. This will allow me to view it with an objective eye and better revise and recraft my 50,000 words into something I can show others. In the meantime, I will focus my creative energy on art and this blog. To my regular readers, thank you for your patience.
All in all, I am proud of what I accomplished. It’s not a masterpiece, or even a published book, sure, but it’s a start! If you have ever wanted to pen a novel, but struggle with procrastination or writer’s block, I recommend giving Nanowrimo a try. Stick to it and it may surprise you what you can achieve.
Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The aim is to write a 50,000 word draft in 30 days. The project provides an incentive for aspiring authors to overcome writer’s block and set up a consistent writing routine. Achieving the 50,000 word mark requires an average of 1,666 words a day – no small feat.
To ‘win’ Nanowrimo you must write 50,000 words – it doesn’t matter whether or not your narrative is finished. The project relies on an honour system where you don’t need to submit your manuscript or even have anyone read it. To compete you make an account and update your word progress on the Nanowrimo website. While there is no reward, you do earn the satisfaction of achieving a personal goal and getting more writing done in one month than many do in years. Nanowrimo is the perfect opportunity for writing the book you’ve always wanted to write but never found the time.
The key to winning is to not look back. Nanowrimo is not about creating a polished and succinct story ready for publishing but getting words down on a page. No first draft is good, after all, and to make a compelling story requires coming back at a later date, editing and redrafting. All this is impossible, however, if you have nothing to work with.
Nanowrimo began in 1999 with a group of 21 writers in the San Francisco Bay Area. November was chosen for its poor weather. The following year it moved online and grew in popularity every year since. In 2017 over 400,000 people from across the world participated. Many schools and libraries offer public write-ins where Nanowrimo participants can work together and discuss ideas while a wide range of forums and pep talks are available online.
Since 2006 over 200 Nanowrimo projects have become fully published novels. Countless more have been self published. Big names include:
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgunestern
- The Beautiful Life by Alan Averill
As promised in January, this month I will attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. This project will consume most of my creative energy so there will be few blog posts until December. When the 30 days are over I will share what I have learnt from the process. Wish me luck!