April 16, 2013 by KWills
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Well, International Novel Writing Months, these days, but the original name is well established and isn’t likely to change now.
It all started back in 1999, with a bunch of friends coming together to write their novels in a month. The event went online in the second year, and snowballed from there. For the full story, click here.
Many things have changed since that first year, but three things have remained constant:
- Write 50,000 words of fiction
- Get involved with the community
- Have fun
It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be aiming for publication. It can be in any language, any genre, any style. There is even a “Rebels” area in the forum for people telling their stories in fifty pictures, or minutes of interpretive dance, or bars of music. So long as it is countable, and vaguely storytelling-related, NaNo will provide a place for you to challenge yourself alongside other, like-minded people.
The NaNoWriMo philosophy has come under fire at times for encouraging quantity over quality. There have been some amazingly vitriolic articles penned by people who took one look at the title of Chris Baty’s “No Plot? No Problem!” and decided that he was single-handedly destroying the sacred art of novel-writing. These people are missing the point by several light years. NaNoWriMo is about writing fast, getting the words down without worrying that they are gut-wrenchingly bad. This is something that every serious novelist needs to be able to do. It’s alright to spend fifteen years sweating blood over your first novel’s first draft, but if you want to work as a professional writer then you have to be able to meet deadlines, and that means finding a way to write quickly. Some lucky people have never known the paralysis of self-doubt, and they can happily write at a steady pace all day, every day. The rest of us need help now and then to get past the tyranny of the inner editor. And that’s where NaNoWriMo comes in.
Write! Don’t stress, don’t look back, don’t second guess yourself. Just write. I’ve participated four times, and “won” twice. That is to say, reached the 50k goal twice. However, every year has given me something that I would not otherwise have achieved, so I see it as four years and four wins. The only downside, for me, is that I have not yet got into the habit of writing every day, and I flag between challenges. Then again, that’s where “Round of Words in 80 Days” comes in – aka RoW80 (gotta love those abbreviations).
Self-motivation is hard. If you can do it, then good for you. Maybe you can share your wisdom and help to motivate others? If you’re like me, and need a bit of extra incentive to keep going, then why not try NaNoWriMo this year? Or, if you can’t wait – sign up for Camp NaNo? That’s happening right now, and again in July.
Whether you choose to NaNo or not, I hope you take a look and see what people are getting so excited about. And, if you find a NaNo-hater online, then take their words with a pinch of salt. NaNo may not be for everyone, but it has made an undeniable difference to writers of all kinds. Without it, I might never have seriously considered writing as a profession.
I’ll leave you to decide whether or not that’s a good thing.