So, You Want To Write A Novel
What Is NaNoWriMo?
I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo so long, it surprises me how many people out there have never heard of it.
The name stands for National Novel Writing Month. It began as a challenge hosted by the Office of Letters and Light to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. The key was, kill your inner editor and just write, and was intended to spur a lot of wannabe novelists into becoming actual novelists. It’s a no holds barred, mad dash take on novel writing. It’s terrifying the first time you do it, sometimes overwhelming and frustrating, but absolutely exhilarating to win at.
A lot of people ask me, so what do you win? And I say, “At the end I have a first draft of a novel; that’s what I win.”
2 Ways Camp NaNoWriMo Is Different From Regular NaNoWriMo
Camp NaNoWriMo happens in April and July and embraces the same breakneck approach to noveling with little more leeway. Here are the two ways Camp differs from November NaNo:
- Pick your project: Camp Nano is open to more than just novels. You can write a script, a picture book, book of poetry, etc
- Variable wordcounts: You can pick the standard 50k or you can set yourself a more personal word goal (from 10k-999k)
Why Should You Try NaNoWriMo?
Back in 2012 I told a friend of mine about Nanowrimo, partially so that she would keep me accountable. At that point I’d been trying to win nano for years without ever succeeding, but this was the first year I tried it during the summer and I hoped that with a less hectic schedule I might succeed.
Anyways, my friend looked at me and said, “I’ve always thought I’d like to write a novel. But I don’t have time.” (She’s a full time teacher and November is a terrible month for adding on extra projects.)
I said to my friend, “Why don’t you just try nano with me? We can keep each other accountable. And then if you win, you’ll have finally written a novel and you can stop saying you want to write one.”
She agreed to my proposal and so in the month of June (this was when they were trying June/July as a camp combo) we met regularly, brainstormed, tossed ideas off one another, nagged each other about our word counts and eventually, finished writing 50,000 words each. Neither of our novels were actually complete but this marked a milestone for both of us. We weren’t just people saying we wanted to write a book, we were two people who had written books (or most of 2 books. I have since finished my original nano novel, which became The Duality Paradigm (available on Amazon), and my friend went on to write another children’s books the next summer.)
Camp NaNoWriMo is a great way to ease yourself into writing, especially if November is a bad month for you like it is for my friend.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t wait for the muse to inspire you. That may work in the ideas stage of writing, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of putting a whole novel on paper, you’ve got to be disciplined enough to sit down at your keyboard every day and write. Nanowrimo is a great way to teach yourself how to do that. If you’re just starting out, 1667 words a day sounds like a lot and, believe me, it is a lot. But the feeling of reaching your goal every day and being able to type The End on a 200 page manuscript—well, that’s the whole reason we say we want to write, isn’t it?
The Road To Camp 2014
In March I’m going to be talking about the preparation that goes into writing a novel and getting ready for camp. Then in April, I’m going to share with you updates about my progress. This year, my April camp goal will be 85,000 words and I’ll be writing the third Blood & Bone novel. I’ll also be editing the second book (The Convergence Theory) in anticipation of releasing it in June.
I hope you decide to stick around and see how my progress goes and I hope that if you’ve ever said “I want to write a novel” you take this chance as the kick in the pants to make good on those words.
Planning to write something for camp? Tell me about it in the comments! Or follow me on twitter to chat and stay up to day.
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