It’s the middle of October and we’re gearing up for NaNoWriMo. Are you?
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Participants are challenged to finish a 50,000-word novel in the 30 days of November, writing 1,667 words a day. Founded in 1999 by Chris Baty, it started off as a tiny group of writers in the San Francisco Bay Area who challenged themselves to write a novel in a month. 19 years later, NaNoWriMo now boasts more than 400,000 participants worldwide and hosts a Young Writers Programme in November to encourage creative writing in schools.
Whilst it may sound like ridiculous hype, great things have come out of NaNoWriMo, including 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, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder and Anna Tan’s Dongeng. Why not add your novel to that list?
50,000 words? In one month? That’s crazy!
Sometimes the problem with writing is… actually writing. Life gets in the way. School gets in the way. Work gets in the way. And then a new year rolls around and you’re still on page one of your novel. (At least, we hope you’ve started page one.) What NaNoWriMo does is add a little bit of challenge (and discipline) to your writing life.
Setting yourself an achievable goal of 1,667 words a day helps you to pace yourself—and before you know it, you’ll have completed the first draft of your novel! This kind of sustained, target-based writing exercise doesn’t work for everyone, so if you don’t hit the target, don’t worry. What you’ll have gained from attempting it is an achievement in itself, including:
- Discovering that you are capable of writing more than you think.
- Building more confidence in your writing and your writing process.
- Gaining a new community of supportive writing friends.
- Finding out if you’re a plotter (you need detailed outlines before writing) or a pantster (you write as the story comes to you without outlines or plots).
- Working out if you prefer to word-vomit and edit later or if you need to scrutinise every word, sentence and paragraph as you write.
- Writing more words than you had at the beginning of the month.
It’s a win-win situation!
3 Do’s for November:
- DO enjoy yourself! Whilst it’s a competition (sorta?) the most you’ll win is a certificate, discounts, and bragging rights. If your participation is affecting your mental health, relationships, or life/work/school, take a step back and chill.
- DO attempt to write every day. The point of NaNoWriMo is to help you get into a habit of writing regularly.
- DO get involved in community. Writing is usually a very lonely endeavour. With a bunch of other crazy writers working towards the same goal in November, it’s the perfect time to find new writing friends (online and offline) for encouragement and solace.
How do I sign up?
Sign up at the website here: https://nanowrimo.org
If you’re looking for a community of Malaysian writers to join you on this crazy writing journey, join the NaNo Malaysia facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/257264007651665/ or join the regional forum: https://nanowrimo.org/regions/asia-malaysia. More participants are active on the FB group than on the forum, but you never know. Things may change year by year, depending on who’s signed up for the year.
Also look out for the occasional write-in posts—the KL group normally meets on Saturday evenings at various malls. If you’re based in Penang, the MYWriters Penang group has a weekly write-in at Luma every Monday evening from 7pm – 11pm. It’s not directly related to NaNoWriMo, but you’ll be in writing company!
Now I’ve signed up, how can I prepare?
- Join a writing group in your area (whether face-to-face or virtual) for encouragement, writing tips, and to convince at least one of them to join you on this crazy journey!
- Look out for any pre-NaNoWriMo meetups in your area (see above) or create one!
- Prep your friends, writerly or not, to cheer you on (and provide tea, chocolate, and tissue paper).
- If you’re a plotter, start outlining and collecting miscellaneous information so you’re ready to dive right in on Nov 1!
- If you’re a pantster, clear up your writing space and remove distractions from your desk so you’re ready to dive right in on Nov 1!
- Check out the NaNo Prep page for webcasts, tweet chats, events, and all the other stuff we’ve missed out.
See you in November!