Before I talk about NaNoWriMo, I would like to mention that Ben Galley, an author and self-publisher, has asked me to guest interview for his site Shelf Help. I will be putting up new interviews with writing and industry professionals periodically through Shelf Help.
Today, the first interview went live. This first slot is with editor and translator Kevin Booth, who also happens to be my editor. You can check out the full interview here. If you’re considering the self-publishing route and thinking about an editor, this is a must read from an independent professional.
Now, onto NaNo.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month is the challenge write a novel in the month of November. Novels vary in length, and so actually, the challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days (most commonly in November, but NaNoWriMo.org have opened up Camp NaNo in June and August as well.)
I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo for about 8 years. I had some spectacular failures, but the last two years, I completed the challenge, first with a novel called Miss and Hitman, and in 2012 with Dead and Buryd.
As I was coming up to the time when I wanted to write the second book in the Out of Orbit series, I chose to begin it for NaNoWriMo. I stayed up past midnight last night, and after spending a lot of time planning in the run up, was able to get ahead with a 3,000+ word count by 2am. Obviously, I’m rather tired this morning, but I’m excited to continue working on this sequel.
So, maybe 50,000 reasons to take part was a bit of a steep offer. Writing this blog post alone would complete NaNoWriMo if each reason was a single word. Instead, I’m going to give you five reasons to consider taking up the challenge.
1. It’s not as big a challenge as you think.
50,000 words in 30 days is a big ask, and if you complete it, it’s something to be very proud of. However, don’t let that big number put you off. If you break it down it comes in at 1,667 words per day. That’s a few hours a day, which most likely, as an author, you might be getting close to anyway.
2. The Comradery
NaNoWriMo is a solo challenge that fosters a great deal of comradery amongst participants. Someone else winning does not mean that you lose. There are always people to help you on the way, whether it’s through running word sprints together, or by others helping you out of that plot hole. People are incredibly enthusiastic about helping others.
3. You can’t edit that which you haven’t written.
If you’re hoping for a finished, ready-to-go novel at the end of NaNoWriMo, you may be tilting at the wrong windmill, but you can have a lot of fun trying to knock those sails off. There are constant reminders during November to ‘turn off your inner editor,’ and yes, fifty percent of the content you get from NaNo could be unusable. However, you can’t edit that which you haven’t written, and NaNoWriMo is a great time to forge through that first draft.
4. Networking and Social Aspects
NaNoWriMo is a great social time for authors. Different areas will have meet ups and events throughout the month. Usually, these will have writing sprints, sometimes with prizes for the people who make the most progress throughout the event. Even if face to face meet ups are not your thing, Twitter and Facebook are awash with writers taking part in NaNoWriMo, not to mention the forums available on the NaNo website. It can be a great opportunity to meet people to connect with outside NaNo, say when you have a blog tour going on.
5. It’s much easier to finish once you start
Have you ever noticed that the time before writing something takes much longer than the writing it? We psych ourselves out, wondering whether the words on the page will ever match up to the idea in our head. NaNoWriMo is like being pushed off the high diving board you’ve been worried about jumping from. You flail, perhaps you scream, and then you have a choice: continue to flail, or try to make sure you don’t belly flop.
Writing every day and creating that back catalogue takes training, and NaNoWriMo is a great kick in the ass to get you started. By the time November is over, you’ve probably written at least 500 words every day for a month. Once you’re into that rhythm, continuing it becomes much easier.
So, it’s only November 1st. It’s not too late to sign up if you have that story burning to get out. If not, maybe support some writers you know who are taking part.