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9 Reasons to Join NaNoWriMo and 8 Tips on How to do That

nanowrimoNational Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a celebration of the belief that there’s a story inside each of us; we just need a way to share it. NaNoWriMo asks participants to pen (or type) 50,000 words during the month of November–the first draft of the novel they always promised to write. If they succeed, they get the enviable privilege of adding a badge to their blog’s sidebar attesting to the fact that they survived–or won–NaNoWriMo.

The event began in 1999. By 2014 (according to the NaNoWriMo website):

  • 325,142 participants, including 81,311 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
  • Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels had been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.See a full list of our published authors.

Lots of contestants fail, but swear they will try again. Why? To me, it’s like Hell’s tilt-a-wheel (thank you, Kristen Lamb, for that image). Clearly, ‘not finishing’ isn’t significant because every year, the number of participants grows.  Here are nine reasons why writers say they are glad they did NaNoWriMo and will do it again:

  • It kickstarts their novel.
  • It reboots their writing efforts.
  • It gets them through that rough period of writing a novel that starts with the first sentence and ends as the protagonist disappears into the sunset.
  • All efforts to avoid it will fail.
  • They enjoy living life with their hopes up.
  • The NaNoWriMo community gets them through writers block, insecurities, and laziness. They’re like a walking drumroll.
  • It supersedes any excuse for NOT writing–and friends and family understand that.4718494 commercial woman with a laptop
  • How else can you say that you wrote a novel in one month?
  • It established good writing habits. Every expert tells wanna-be authors to write daily. NaNoWriMo makes that happen for thirty days.

If you’re going to participate this year, read these eight tips from the NaNoWriMo Twitter trenches (with a few snide asides by me):

  • It’s never too late to start writing.
  • Don’t start unless you’re committed to the project. It’s demanding, exhausting, and relentless.
  • Don’t model your work after an author who committed suicide (who the heck was this person thinking of?)
  • Plan your novel in October and write like the dam broke behind you in November.
  • Don’t delete anything (OK, this’ll get you to 50,000 words, but really?)
  • Use music as inspiration.
  • Write your characters brilliant.
  • Including time-travel solves all those “but how would this person find out about that??” problems.

Does this sound like your sort of gig? If not, that’s OK. You have to bloom where you’re planted. You’ll find sunlight somewhere else.

Still pondering? Check out Fast Pencil’s reasons here, and Mondern Fantastic’s article, Why NaNoWriMo Doesn’t Work (and Why it Does).

More on NaNoWriMo:

NaNoWriMo — Oh No

23 Reasons I’m NOT Doing NaNoWriMo

How to Kickstart Your Writing Career

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

38 thoughts on “9 Reasons to Join NaNoWriMo and 8 Tips on How to do That

  1. Great advice, Jacqui. I did NaNo three or four years ago. It drained me; my brains dried to sawdust but it was a fantastic learning experience. Hope to go back to the MS one of these days, not this year. 😀
    I haven’t registered, but plan to spend the 30 days cleaning up and adding to languishing, unfinished stories…a kind of fall cleaning. Don’t plan to be visible on WP for the month.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m IN for my second year. Some good tips and yes, an October Prep month is helpful and makes it more fun, plus what you write might actually make sense. Know and love your characters and then just let it flow while you ask “how can I make them even more miserable??”, says the evil author.

    1677 words per day is not hard…Jen and I tested ourselves last year and wrote 2000 in less than 2 hours. It’s our internal editor that plagues us with stuff like, ‘yes, but is it good?’ or ‘why are you following the other NaNo sheep?’. Last year was the first time I had written 50K words of fiction and made me a believer that I really could produce at least one novel per year. When book 1 and 2 are published in 2016, I’ll really know it was worth it. ;>}

    Am I writing too much?? Warming up the old fingers for that weekly goal of 12.5K words! And…it don’t matter if you don’t make the 50K! 75% don’t, so you won’t be alone, but you will have given it your best shot!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have a note from my doctor saying I am not to participate because that much typing in one month will set off a world class of tendinitis coupled with inoperable carpal tunnel syndrome.

    on man, I shouldn’t have typed all that, my arm hurts now…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jacqui, your personal comments are fabulous and funny – I don’t do NaNo (maybe I should do NaQue – writing queries for the month!) but this post is a solid strategic plan for those who want to try. How thoughtful of you to give a boost to NaNo folks even though you don’t participate. (At least, I don’t think you do.)
    One bit of advice from me for NaNo folks: get up early on November 1.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been participating since 2011, and for me the “It reboots your writing efforts” reason is the big one. It always helps me remember why I love writing. (Now if only something could make me love *re*writing…) “All efforts to avoid it fail” is also definitely true; I definitely don’t have time this year, and yet I’m doing it anyway. (I plan to try to stick to only 1,667ish words a day, though. In my pre-grad school years I tended to get in the neighborhood of 150k, and I definitely don’t have time for that. Last year I wrote about 100k, but I was only taking one class then, whereas now I have two and massive amounts of research to do.)

    I’d like to add a tip, and contest a tip, btw. The tip I’d add is: don’t try to write seriously in the position of the woman in that photo. I’ve tried it; it doesn’t work. The tip I’d contest is the one about time-travel; my novel for this year is a time-travel novel, and it just makes everything more complicated, not less. (Like almost all my books, I’m afraid it’s going to turn out to be 90% people standing around and talking…just because there’s so much stuff the characters have to learn, mostly about each other.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have fond and foul memories of grad school classes. I loved the research–what an opportunity to pursue my passion–but hated the judgement. Grades should be objective, but often are something else. Still, the overall experience was positive.

      Interesting about the time travel. When I read that on Twitter, I thought it sounded obvious. Thanks for weighing in from the trenches.


      • Of course, the nature of my story’s time travel is a bit different (to the future, unwitting and unwilling, one-way, from an assortment of time periods) but even in normal time travel stories, usually only a portion of the cast has the ability to travel through time, and it’s not always unlimited, so it just makes a mess of things. (Imagine “Back to the Future” from the perspective of someone other than Marty and Doc, y’know? They’d just be more confused, and have even less knowledge available to them.)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I highly recommend NaNoWriMo. My first book, which is currently under contract, was my first NaNo experience. It was written in 2010 and was a mess, but it was a good start. It takes discipline, but anyone can write 1667 words a day. It’s really not that hard.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so excited about your new contract–‘Who’s calling?’ What a perfect blog title. I just read a series by Harlequin author Maggie Shayne. I bought the first by accident and was so thrilled to find it to no longer be the gratuitous love I thought it would be. Harlequin has changed. I’m looking forward to purchasing your book when it comes out.

      I hope too you blog about working with/for Harlequin. I attended a seminar by one of their authors a while ago. They seem to do thinks quite differently than the traditional publisher. I liked all of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post and going by ‘all efforts to avoid it will fail’ reason I am unofficially taking part this month! To ‘reboot’ or rather finish my first draft. Knowing everyone else will be working hard at their writing is a boost and a bit of kick. Good luck to everyone taking part and have a bit of fun -surely that reason should be thrown in there?!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m going to participate but I love these kind of lists. Somehow they manage to inspire me even though I’ve already made the decision to join and this’ll be my seventh year. And since the Nano community can always do with more people, I’m glad posts like these are out there to draw in lots and lots of writers!

    Liked by 1 person

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