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Every November on Critique Circle a brave cohort of writers dive into National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a NaNoWriMo) and challenge themselves to write 50,000 words of a novel in just thirty days. It’s a crazy notion, but they do it anyhow. This will be my eleventh year joining them in the writing insanity.
Meantime on the forums here I bump in many who have never heard of NaNo, think it’s not for them, or simply can’t see the point. There are, however, ten excellent reasons to try NaNo.
1. November can Feed Your Entire Writing Year
Editing and submitting novels (or self-publishing and promoting them) takes time, lots of time. Your NaNoWriMo first draft will keep you busy editing and submitting year round. By the time next November rolls around you will be ready to take on a new story.
2. Develop the Daily Writing Habit
Many participants (known as wrimos) quote this as the best benefit of NaNo. We all aim to write daily but many writers fall short. NaNoWriMo can help you kickstart this habit. Think of it as a turbo-boost for your writing life.
3. Try a New Genre in One Month
Always wondered if you could plot a thriller? Usually write erotica, but you’d love to create something your kids could read? Now is your chance. It’s only thirty days. It won’t eat into your writing life too much and there are plenty of genre-specific forums on the NaNo site to support you if your usual writing group can’t.
4. You Prefer Plays, Poetry or Short Fiction?
Great! You’re a #NaNoRebel. You may want a 30,000 word target instead, that’s fine. NaNoWriMo can be flexible. You’re very welcome to every aspect of the month and you get a cool hashtag too. Last year I was a NaNoRebel myself as I wrote a non-fiction book drawn from my blog.
5. Put the Fun Back into Your Writing
You may be new to this writing lark and still brimful of enthusiasm. If so, that’s brilliant. Endless deadlines, the sometimes grim grind of rejections and low sales can erase a writer’s love of the craft from their soul. NaNo’s stated aim of encouraging creativity will help you to get back your mojo.
Many of the social events (Kick Off and Thank Goodness It’s Over parties) are just for fun. The atmosphere on the forums is positive and supportive. The online word sprints are addictive and regions can end up in Word Wars (competing to see which writers write the most in the month).
My region has devised a Regional Dare this year. We have to include a flaming sword in all our books (easy in fantasy, not so simple in a history non-fiction book). We also run a Random Ideas Box full of crazy book ideas to use in case of writer’s block. Writing with other writers is not something you will do every day and it’s fun.
6. Meet Other Writers
Meeting other writers was one of the main reasons I founded my region in NaNo. Living in a rural area I had no writing group to join. Although you CC’ers are great, you’re not close enough to drop in for hot chocolate. A year-round real world network of other writers – what’s not to like?
7. Support from Your Local Mentor
The Municipal Liaison is the public face of NaNo. There are more than 600 of us world wide and if you’re interested in volunteering we’d love to have you for next year. We’re there to help, moderate forums, run events, and communicate with our local writers. The NaNoWriMo blog is another great spot for more support.
8. Published Author Stuff
Exclusive email pep talks from writers like Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, John Green and bestselling authors interacting on #NaNoCoach during the month. There’s also a huge archive of past pep talks from writers in every genre.
9. Exclusive Offers on Writing Tools
There’s free stuff and discounts for anybody who takes part and even better stuff for those that pass the 50,000 words. You even get a nifty little winner certificate. Full details online.
10. Deadlines Help Writers
Insane deadlines help more.
11. Bonus Benefit
A first draft of your book! You can’t edit without one.
There you have it, eleven great reasons to try NaNoWriMo this year. It’s free. It’s fun. You might enjoy it.
If you’re reading this and it’s already November, don’t panic. I didn’t start my first NaNo until the 13th of November so you’ve no excuse!
Useful NaNoWriMo Resources
· www.nanowrimo.org - National Novel Writing Month
· http://ywp.nanowrimo.org - Young Writers Programme for those aged 17 and under
· http://campnanowrimo.org/about - Camp NaNo - April and July
· #nanoprep #nanowrimo #NaNowordsprints #NaNoCoach – handy hashtags
· http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks - Exclusive Pep Talks - including an archive of past authors
· http://blog.nanowrimo.org/ - details on the “30 days 30 covers” application process for a free book cover design
· http://nanowrimo.org/sponsor-offers this year’s offers for winners and participants – 50% off Scrivener, 3 months free Evernote Premium, free ebooks and online masterclasses etc.
Grace Tierney (www.gracetierney.com) is a columnist, author, and blogger writing in rural Ireland. She is the Ireland North East organiser for National Novel Writing Month (www.NaNoWriMo.org) and actually enjoys the challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month. 2017 will be her eleventh NaNoWriMo and her ninth as regional mentor for Ireland North East. She blogs about unusual words at http://wordfoolery.wordpress.com, tweets @Wordfoolery, and has a previous NaNo comedy novel available in serial format at Channillo https://channillo.com/series/hamster-stew-and-other-stories/ .