If you have ever said, “I’m going to write a novel,” may I suggest that you use NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as your platform? It is a wonderful tool to provide the motivation and encouragement from other writers that you may need to propel you from zero to one-hundred in thirty days!
Two years ago I participated in National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November of every year. The goal is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. That year, I was still in college classes, but it was a great way to put some fire behind one of my novel ideas. I accomplished writing about 20,000 words that year. The NaNo website, nanowrimo.org, acknowledges even your well-best intentions, but the “winners” achieve the 50,000 word mark.
I had it in my mind to achieve that, some day, but after graduation, I sort of crashed. I gave myself a month to recuperate from college, then I was going to get back on the bandwagon and get writing. But life got in the way and six months passed. Horrors!
Thank goodness I had the sense to “like” NaNoWriMo on facebook. Every so often I would see their posts and the idea of finishing my novel that I wrote while in college continued to nag.
In July, the site hosts Camp NaNoWriMo, with the same goal as in November: write 50,000 words in a month. (There is also a level for rebels. You set your own parameters and just participate and achieve success at your own rate.) I considered this, but I really wanted to prove to myself that I have what it takes to be a writer who can really make it — and by that I mean: work at writing, each and every day, in the midst of life. That was the Camp slogan. “Writing in the midst of your crazy life.” Yep. That fit.
I signed up.
They assign campers to an online “cabin.” Like-minded writers, within a genre, age-group, or other criteria are assigned randomly, or you can choose your cabin mates. I went for random and I could not have ended up happier with the situation. The writers in my cabin were encouraging. Each was at a different level in their writing, from “I wish I could write,” to “I write professionally.” We were able to communicate on the assigned cabin message forum. Each one of us achieved a level of success and one other camper besides me, made it over the 50,000 word goal.
I found that I was more competitive than I had ever imagined. I wanted to meet my word goal each day, which was over 1600. Some days I surpassed 3000 or 5000. Once, I was side-lined for five days with zero words. But I didn’t give up! I came back at it determined to finish. On day twenty-two when I knocked out the final word in 50,000, I was elated. I did it! Life and all. Crazy life and all. I ended up with a prequel to my first novel.
It was not my best writing, by any stretch of the imagination, but I got those words down in black and white. Some of my ideas were great. I can see what they will blossom into with some hard work. It was just the doing, the discipline, the commitment, the promise to myself within the view of others that seemed to work for me.
Camp NaNoWriMo awards the winners with cool virtual badges and a certificate that can be printed out, as well as several online purchase discounts. That was nice, but the best part was that I just did it. I surpassed my goal.
I think that I will continue to participate in NaNoWriMo. It was a great way to set a goal and achieve it, with daily markers right before my eyes. I’ve committed to my goal and signed up for November 1!
I have also found a NaNoEdMo site. (National Novel Editing Month takes place in March.) It is setting aside about two hours per day for a month to edit a previously written novel. Perfect again! Just what I need, because I have two novels to edit and a third on the way!
I encourage you to check out the websites and set some goals. November is just around the corner. You can do this! I did, I know you can.
Have you ever wanted to write a novel? Do you think you might participate in NaNoWriMo? Let me know. . . .