National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a writing ‘competition’ that spans over a month every November. Anyone can join (it’s freeee) and begin working on whatever writing project they’re interested in with the aim to hit 50k words by the end of the month. Anyone who reaches the 50k target is basically a winner. NaNoWriMo usually has cool offers for winners like 50% off Scrivener and there are also lots of benefits for members too!
How did it help?
I took part in NaNoWriMo in November ’16 and wrote about 35k words of my work in progress (WIP). 35k words was a lot for me and I was surprised I managed to write that much in a month. I finished the first draft of my WIP by the end of January, the process was a lot slower without NaNoWriMo because I didn’t have the little progress bar pushing me on to write more and more. I don’t know how some writers speed through 50k words or more a month, they’re probably part unicorn or something.
The best thing about NaNoWriMo for me was that it stopped me editing my WIP as I went along. Editing is a huge problem for me because I slow myself down by revisiting the same sentences over and over and over again. The idea is you just write without thinking of edits, this is supposed to help you get everything down first so you can go back later to tweak things, even rewrite if required. If you’re a planner then I recommend doing that before the month starts so you can focus on just the writing part.
The website forums are incredibly helpful in providing tips and tricks, ideas, and even helping with research. I used the forum to ask people for personal experiences to help me write scenes like my main character’s first archery lesson. Everyone is friendly and super helpful, so it’s a great community that spreads positive vibes all around. You also have access to writing resources, pep talks, events and you can purchase merchandise.
Camp NaNoWriMo is set up like a writers’ retreat, it runs in April and in July and you have more flexibility with your word count goals. I haven’t touched my WIP draft since I finished it in January, so I’m using Camp NaNoWriMo to go back to my WIP and edit/rewrite. I don’t think I’m going to be able to complete the whole thing in a month, so I’ve set myself the goal of completing the first 30k words of my WIP.
I opted to be part of a ‘cabin’. Cabins are a feature available in Camp, you can get assigned a little writers’ group of 19 members (you can set preferences e.g. all fantasy writers) or team up with people you know.
I’m definitely excited to begin! I’ve wanted to return to my WIP in ages but kept putting it off and getting distracted, this is going to force me to prioritise my writing again. I don’t consider myself a competitive person but there’s something satisfying about seeing that progress bar go higher and higher!
There’s still time to join! I think anyone can hop in and take part at any time, but it’ll probably be nicer to join at the start of the month so you have more time to work on your project in camp.