NaNoWriMo Novelists, Start Your Engines!

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Thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon began today for aspiring novelists participating in National Novel Writing Month. Launched in 1999, NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Last year, over 200,000 people signed up, writing 2,872,682,109 words.

Of course, you can write a novel whenever you want to, and you can also write 1,667 words a day whenever you want to. But the power of November is twofold: first, it’s a community of people, all doing the same thing at the same time, encouraging each other; and second, it’s a way to force you to get over the very first hurdle toward being a writer – writing. No, what you write in 30 days will probably not be very good. No, you’re not going to go off on December 1 and query an agent (and if you do, then you’re one of the ones giving NaNo-ers a bad rep).  But at the very least you’ll have practice writing, and at best you might have the start of something great.

Though if you want a success story, look no farther than Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus, the best new book I’ve read this year. The debut novel (which garnered a six-figure deal) started life during NaNoWriMo five years ago. Morgenstern is the first to point out that the book was nowhere near finished after 30 days, but it was at least a start, and sometimes that’s what you really need.

Also, for novelists in the crowd whether you’re participating or not – good news for your technology needs!  Writing software Scrivener is about to be available for Windows. You can pre-order it now for 10% off and an additional discount with code NANOWRIMO.  I’m a huge fan of this software and have used it on Mac for years – I also know some people who have had good success using it to organize their dissertations.

Any readers participating in the challenge this year? If so, let us know what your novel’s about!

Image: NaNoWriMo Day 3 / mpclemens / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/





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4 Responses to NaNoWriMo Novelists, Start Your Engines!

  1. I'm going to try it to. My book is set in a steampunk world, where a depressed young man has decided to become a paladin. He and his sidekick will solve mysteries and make discoveries about the world where they live.

  2. I decided on halloween to participate in NaNo this year. So far, my book is about a group of about ten survivors of a sort of alien apocalypse, who eventually drive each other insane. It's really depressing me.

  3. I just read an opinion piece lambasting NanoWriMo. It was full of a lot of "No True Scotsman" type phrases like "real novelists don't need…" and "real novelists don't do…" I think it undermines the entire idea, which is simply go give people a little push to write. I know that I didn't *need* it, but it certainly helped. And I am one of those people who jumped in feet first with no research, no notes, and no plan. Apparently yet another thing that "real novelists" don't do. And I'm going to keep right on doing it regardless, because I feel like I'm on to something.

    My novel, which stands at just over 7K words after three days and shows no sign of running out of steam, is about a guy who stumbles into an incursion into our world by inhuman monsters From Beyond. But they aren't your stereotypical Lovecraftian horrors and he isn't completely the everyman that he thinks he is. It was heavily influenced by the Tribe 8 rpg from Dream Pod 9 and White Wolf's Exalted line. Anyone who wants to read along, let me know and I'll post a link to the blog where I'm putting the whole mess.

    • That sounds fantastic, Wil. I would love to read it!

      And I totally agree… that opinion piece is wrong. If an event like this gets people to actually write, create, and learn, then I support it 100%! Will a fabulous novel come of everyone's stories? No. But some stories that are started this month could be the beginning to something astonishing to the literary world.

      I had a hard time getting my science-fiction off the ground because I need to do more research before I can start writing (it involves human cloning so I need to learn the ins and outs of that first), so I chose to go with a young adult fiction this year instead. My YA fiction that I'm writing is from the perspective of a bullied teenage boy and his battle with deep depression, and how a girl who decides to be his friend ends up saving his life. I have no idea where it's going, but heck, I'm just going to write and see where it takes me! That's the whole spirit of NaNoWriMo. Just to practice and explore.