Hello, readers! Though Halloween is officially over, that’s no reason the fun needs to end. On the contrary, November marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. This April was my first experience with NaPOWriMo (poetry, instead of novel)–check out my April archives on the right (or my “writings” pull-down menu at the top) to see my poems for that month. Though I’ve been hearing about NaNoWriMo for a few years, I’ve always been a bit intimidated to participate. In grad school, I had to juggle many different writing projects simultaneously for my classes. Last year, I participated lightly and unofficially with my writing group (including Andrea). This year, though, I’ve decided I’m jumping in wholeheartedly. This week’s “top ten” will be dedicated to the reasons I want to participate, and I’ll explain the event along the way. By the end, maybe you’ll want to participate, too. 🙂
1. A numerical goal
Most NaNoWriMo participants are probably cringing at the 50,000-word goal for the month, but for me, the number is refreshing. As I’ve hinted before, I’m currently working on young-adult fantasy novel, and while it’s been a blast, it’s really hard for me to tell precisely how far along I am and how far I have left to go. 50,000 is at least an actual number I can aim for, one where I really have…
2. Nothing to lose
I’d really like to reach 50k words this month, truly. And if I reached the end of the novel before I reached that number, then I could begin its sequel. However, if that number is just too breakneck for me, I think the goal itself will get me closer to the end of my novel–maybe even to its end. One of my favorite quotes: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you don’t make it, you’ll land among the stars.”
I just signed up on the official site, but goodness, it will measure All the Things. My writing is a number I am more shy of sharing than my weight, as atypical as that may be…so while I will share my journey with you, my dears, I shan’t be sharing my numbers. This will be a private weigh-in. 😉
4. Community ❤
There’s something comforting about hundreds of thousands of people going through the same
pain task as you. The official site says that 289,217 people have registered so far, but I suspect the real number (including those not registered, writing on typewriters, notebooks, or sand) is at least double that. You can find me registered under username JellySideUpBlog (I still have to fill out the profile). Whether you crave a bond via Tweeting #NaNoWriMo and knowing your hashtag is echoed thousand-fold, or whether meeting fellow writers in any given coffee shop writing spot is more your style, there’s something for everyone. At the moment, I’m going more the Twitter route, but I may check out some local write-in events. I do miss the social aspect of writing workshops. 🙂
WRITING TIPS: 1) Stare out of the window. 2) Write a paragraph. 3) Delete two paragraphs. 4) Make some toast. 5) Go on Twitter.
— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) November 1, 2013
NaNoWriMo itself is a great resource of constant writing tips, which is also a popular and (often) helpful hashtag on Twitter. You can scroll for random tips on the forums, or you can ask your own questions. Sometimes, authors like to share insight when they have a breakthrough, which can be very helpful if you have a similar writing challenge.
6. Peer pressure
In this case, I find peer pressure is a good thing–people are egging me on to join in, and I feel I would disappoint them if I don’t at least try my best to participate. The cool thing is the peers in this case range from imaginative high-schoolers to bestselling authors.
7. It’s the cool thing to do 😎
Participating in NaNoWriMo gives you serious street cred in the writing world. It’s sort of like comparing battle scars with someone, except the only injury you’re in danger of getting here is carpal tunnel. Or paper cuts, if you’re old-school.
8. It discourages your worst plot-hole habits
I think every writer has some aspect of his/her writing that is weaker than the rest. For me, it’s setting. For some reason, I imagine my characters as speaking in a void, volleying wit in the ether. Setting is sometimes Photoshopped in later, when an editor will point out to me that s/he is totally lost in this part of the story. Setting will usually take up a lot of words, because sometimes, you just need to describe a perfectly flat, octagonal, three-foot-high, red, white-lettered, reflective, metal-poled sign deeply thrust into the soft mahogany freshly tilled earth. But seriously, even if it’s not a stop sign, scenery requires proper description to ground the reader and anchor your scene. Your characters should be interacting with it, too. Scenery alone should add a couple of zeroes to your word count; rejoice! It’s easy to pare down later, too. Whatever your neglected story element, really play it up this month and enjoy the added word count.
9. Free stuff
Some generous sponsors are actually giving away some cool swag, including books, software, cash, and more, to those who complete–or even just attempt–NaNoWriMo. Click here to check it out.
10. It’s a holiday!
It’s no secret I’m obsessed with holidays (check out the “holidays” tag on my blog to see what I mean). And while this season is already bursting with holidays, I’m always up for more. Combining my favorite activity with my favorite celebration style might be almost too much excitement for me to handle.
So what do you think, readers? Are you going to try NaNoWriMo? If so, what are your reasons? Stay tuned for progress on my journey. 🙂