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National Novel Writing Month 2021

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
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There's a book in everyone
Have you ever thought you could write a novel, but never had the motivation to do so? Then may I recommend to you that you participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for short)?


What is it?

NaNo is an event where people challenge themselves to complete the first draft of a manuscript, to a minimum of 50,000 words. It does not have to be edited, you just have to produce a complete first draft. It runs for the month of November, so you have 30 days to complete it, which is a little under 1700 words a day.

You use the NaNo website to update your word count each day, and if you do complete it, you get a certificate and the right to purchase some nice merchandise.
national, novel, writing, month, nano
My 2020 Winner t-shirt.


You are allowed to begin planning your work before November starts, and you can go over the word count (last year I did almost 80,000 words, for example), but to be considered a 'winner', you need to complete the 50,000 words.

However, it is important to realise that not everyone can finish in the allotted time. This does not mean you 'lose'. The fact you have put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) means you have done more than the majority of people, and so that is a success. If you then take another year to finish the manuscript, that is another success. If all you manage to do is get the story plotted and started, that, too, is a success. Just writing something means you are doing well.

As to the event itself, it is based in the USA (hence the word 'National' in the title). It started in 1999, and is going from strength to strength. So, it is well-established.


How much does it cost?

Nothing. $0. Not a thing.

Yes, I am serious. It is free to register and use the website, and that's it. However, you are encouraged to donate to keep things going, and there are sponsors who you are encouraged to buy from (often at discounted prices). You will get emails from NaNo about special offers, but that is the price you pay for something like this.


Anything else?

NaNo has a pretty comprehensive forum, with a lot of threads concerning many of the questions you might have. However, being so large, it can be difficult to navigate or find what you are looking for. And, to be honest, I have had a few negative experiences on the main forum with other users, especially from other countries.

What I do recommend is finding your own regional group. Links are available on the website. Most states, and even some cities, have a dedicated NaNo presence. For example, in South Australia, we have a Discord server which is a great bunch of people. I feel there are a number of benefits to utilising these groups:
You are communicating with people in your own area and can do so in real-time. Also, once this pandemic thing is over, real-life events can also take place. As I said, NaNo is based in the USA, so these local groups become vital to helping you complete it.
Questions are answered in real-time, in a manner you can understand, and getting clarification is not an issue.
They hold events that are specific to your own time zone and can move things to cater to members. Write-ins, sprints, plot-ins, etc. are the sorts of things that happen.
There is support. These localised groups are smaller, and so it is easier to get some real support from people who understand your situation.

When it comes to support, especially if you are in your first few times of attempting NaNo and/or have never written a longer work before, that support is vital. There is the opportunity to ask for help with information, with how characters might react/respond, even if a plotline makes sense, and the answers tend to be actually helpful, with more than one answer often coming. The Writing Community is generally a supportive one, and NaNo really emphasises this.

You can write in any genre, fiction, non-fiction, memoir, collection - it does not matter. There are no restrictions. So it is whatever you would like to write about.


Now what?

At the very least, if you are even a little intrigued, then register. Have a look around the official website, ask questions on the forum. Even if you decide not to do it this year, it might give you an idea for future attempts.

The website can be found at https://nanowrimo.org/, and for those writers who are younger and educators who work with them, there is https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/. In Australia, the timing is not great as November is exam time for many students and educators, but to start a project is perfectly fine.

However, having said all that, I think the main thing is that, no matter what the site says and what its goals are, even if you do not complete the 50,000 words they push for, even writing something shows you are a winner. Writing is becoming an art that is falling out of fashion, and it is events like this that keep it going, in the forefront of the minds of people.

So, if you want to try something different, if you've always had that goal in mind to write something longer, have ideas buzzing around, then give National Novel Writing Month a go. It does not hurt to try.

via GIPHY


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Why? We need more writers in the world
When: November
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Your Comment
I did NaNoWriMo about ten years ago. It was quite the challenge but I got it done. I had the manuscript professionally critiqued but never pursued it back then as work commitments got in the way. It was though, a great discipline for writing and at least I know I can get a novel written if I want to.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9535) 41 days ago
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