National Novel Writing Month

It’s the end of October and that means we’re on the verge of yet another National Novel Writing Month.

What’s that, you say? What the hell is this all about?

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) occurs every year in November. The idea is to produce a novel of 50,000 words between the dates of November 1st and November 30th. The rules are that all the actual writing occurs just during those thirty days. You can plot, outline, etc. in advance, but you have to wait until midnight on November 1st before you enter one word into your manuscript. Of course, there’s no enforcement of this, it’s all on the honor system. And there’s no prize, except for the satisfaction of having finished a novel.

So why do it?

If you’re an aspiring writer (or a writer in a dry spell) struggling to get something on the page, an event like this can give you that kick in the pants you need. I’ve participated in it a number of times, but only actually finished once. That was my first novel, Fallen. I’ve attempted other novels since during NaNoWriMo, but they fizzled out. The other books I’ve written were not written as part of NaNoWriMo (I actually finished The Myth Hunter on the eve of NaNoWriMo 2009).

The website has forums to get encouragement from other participants and advice on all manner of things related to writing. There’s also fun things like word counters to chart your progress. You may have seen your writer friends posting progress updates on Twitter, Facebook, or blogs. I’m toying with the idea of jumping into it again, the question is which of the ideas I’ve got notes on will I focus on.

One of my favorite things about the forums are the write-in events. There are regions all over the world for NaNoWriMo and many of these regions will schedule write-ins where people meet up somewhere with their laptops, tablets, notebooks, whatever to just write. It can be a fun way to do some work, participating in an environment like that and feeding off each other’s energy.

I say it’s worth the effort if you want to write a book or even a book of short stories for that matter. If you don’t complete it, there’s no punishment and you can always continue working on the book past November. And if you complete it, you get to pat yourself on the back for a job well done and breathe a sigh of relief.

…until the editing begins, of course.

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