NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo occurs every November. It’s when 200,000 people from all over the world take on the challenge of writing a 50,000 word (175-page) novel in thirty days. It’s an anti-contest writing contest because there are no judges, the prizes are lousy and new and old writers alike bash out surprisingly good books in an absurdly short amount of time.

I have been doing NaNoWriMo since 2003. I have won all seven years and am hoping to make this year number 8! I have been a Municipal Liaison (ML) officially for four years and two unofficially before that. I owe NaNoWriMo so much. I don’t just mean seven bad first drafts and the wonderful camaraderie of my fellow wrimos. I mean the boost in confidence in my ability to write fiction.

The most common fears that hold back would be writers (as highlighted in almost every writing book such as this one by Ralph Keyes) include the fears that you’ll never finish, that you will finish, that you only have one in you, that you will be too lonely doing it, that you will become an alcoholic/drug addict, that you won’t be able to make a living, you’ll run out of ideas, you’ll suck, the rejections will crush you… the list goes on. The advantage with NaNoWriMo is that you blast through most of them in 30-days and you don’t have to pay shipping or handling or have your credit card available.

By writing so quickly, your inner critic doesn’t have the time to make your life miserable. In fact, I just send mine on a beach vacation and he doesn’t come back until its time to start the rewrite. (January is ugly anyway. Having the critic gobbling down your left over Christmas cookies keeps his mouth full.)

What I have learned through NaNoWriMo is that I have lots of ideas and they don’t dry up. That I do get better, that I don’t suck and that I can finish what I start. (Two of my NaNo novels are being read by Tor as I write this. No sales yet but I made is through several levels of gatekeepers to get to this point so it’s really out of my hands now.)

NaNoWriMo isn’t about publishing but rather about writing so it doesn’t help you directly with the fears of not making a living and being crushed by rejections. However, you don’t have time to indulge them. Also, those really aren’t fears, they’re facts but the happiness of having a new novel that you wrote yourself takes the sting out of the rejections and the poverty.

On my downloads page, I have lots of NaNoWriMo goodies. Feel free to use them or modify them as you see fit. My fellow MLs steal my handouts all the time. (As I steal theirs…)

I will be posting my word count now and again as the month of November progresses. If I get behind, feel free to bug me… a LITTLE bit. I will be doing the same for my wrimos. You see, the advantage of NaNoWriMo includes people. You never have to write alone if you don’t want to. There are real life activities and a strong online component. Sign up and join in as little or as much as you want. Just remember, you have to write at least 1,667 words per day to win. We’ll all be rooting for you. You can’t edit a work you never start.

As a last note, I’m a stubborn sort. I didn’t feel I could wear the button “I write books!” until after I finished my third NaNoWriMo. Two just wasn’t enough of a plural for me. But now… I WRITE BOOKS! You can too.