While it’s a hugely popular pastime for a lot of writers in November, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, often gets a bad rap. Some people consider it “amateur hour,” while others bemoan an exercise that seems to prize quantity over quality. For NaNoWriMo devotees, though, these arguments miss the point completely.
NaNoWriMo is about getting the work done. As the official website says, NaNoWriMo values “enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline.” Plenty of best-sellers started out as NaNoWriMo novels, and plenty of successful novelists still participate every year.
The goal of the month isn’t to turn out a polished, publishable book. It’s about putting your nose to the grindstone and getting the words down, come what may. Some people have joked that if November is National Novel Writing Month for them, then December-February are National Novel Editing Months.
The notion that anyone goes into NaNoWriMo expecting to have a publishable book ready on December 1st goes counter to the stated goals of the exercise, which focus on getting the words down now and worrying about editing later. One piece of advice even suggests switching the font color of the previous day’s writing to make it invisible, so that you can’t look back and second-guess yourself.
If you need any further evidence of NaNoWriMo’s credibility, just take a look at some of the pep talks hosted on the NaNoWriMo website, from best-selling and award-winning authors like Charlaine Harris, N. K. Jemisin, Jeff VanderMeer, Holly Black, Lemony Snicket, and many more.
The first National Novel Writing Month happened in 1999 with only 21 participants in and around San Francisco, but today more than 200,000 people try their hand at NaNoWriMo every year. If NaNoWriMo isn’t your thing, though, don’t worry. Everyone’s process is different, and the frenzied 50k-in-30-days pace isn’t for everybody. There are still plenty of handy tips, writing prompts, and other helpful info on the NaNoWriMo website that anybody can use, from NaNoWriMo participants to those—like yours truly—who have yet to ever write a novel.
So whether you’re a first time NaNoWriMo participant or a seasoned veteran—or just someone who’s sitting on the sidelines—NaNoWriMo can be a big help to a lot of writers. And if your NaNo novel turns out to be a big hit and you find yourself needing an author website, Clockpunk Studios can be a big help in that department…