NaNoWriMo is a yearly challenge to writers to write a novel in the month of November. You can read more about it at the official website of NaNoWriMo. My strategy is to be prepared every year. I try to be anyway. The first year I competed, and won, I thought I had mapped out my story pretty well. Imagine my horror when I reached the end of my story after only a couple of weeks and a paltry twenty-five thousand words. The goal is fifty thousand words.
This wasn’t as big a catastrophe as I first thought. I looked at my story’s ending and asked, “What happened after that?” then I plowed ahead and answered that questions. The resulting story wasn’t very satisfying. My second attempt went better. I still added scenes here and there, but they added structure to the story and allowed me freedom. I tried to avoid that this year, but things happen.
Fifty thousand words sounds like a lot of words, until you break it down into daily chunks. The daily chunk ends up a mere sixteen hundred sixty-seven words. I write over nine hundred words everyday in my daily journal. Sometimes I have written eleven hundred words in a half hour. I done it three times now and won every time. As long as you have a story that you are excited about, it isn’t hard to do, ask any WriMo and they will say the same thing. It’s fun and enjoyable. There are competitions between writers to see who can write the most words in a given period. There are parties to kick off the month, and parties to celebrate success. There are write-ins where people gather to bang on the keys of their imaginations.
It was lots of fun to do and I got a nice first draft out of it, just as I did last year.
That’s what you get when you win NaNoWriMo, a rough draft and a nice feeling of accomplishment. Even if you don’t win, you usually have the start of a rough draft, whether you continue with it, or not, is entirely up to you. You can abandon the effort entirely; you can continue to polish the work until you are satisfied with it. Or you can self publish it as it is, the least of the options. Generally, publication only occurs after a lot of revision and polishing to make the work shine. I think it was Hemingway, who said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Ninety percent of writing is rewriting. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is not to get you published, although some people have done that. The purpose is to get you writing.
NaNoWriMo is an intense writing challenge for anyone crazy enough to try it. It only takes one successful November to get you hooked on the game. Yes, NaNoWriMo is a game, it is a writing exercise that may, or may not, lead to a good story. What NaNoWriMo is, is a giant timed writing exercise and those can be the most rewarding because they tap into your innermost self. The best part of it is, if you don’t win, well, there’s always next year.