‘NaNoWriMo’ encourages almost everyone’s inner novelist

Blair Hanley Frank

Every November, National Novel Writing Month (better known as NaNoWriMo to its participants) rolls around. The goal is simple: crank out a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days. Writing a novel is a major undertaking. Trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days borders on the insane. But every year, people manage to pull it off.

Now the real question: Why would anyone in his or her right mind do NaNoWriMo? For a lot of people, it’s a great time to get some solid writing done. An entire community has sprung up online to support all of the participants and writing your novel turns into a real community effort.

While the community is somewhat star-studded (current participants include bestselling horror novelist Scott Sigler and Printz Award-Winning young adult author John Green), most of the people who write during NaNoWriMo are average folks who have always wanted to get that novel that’s been stuck in their head out into the world.

In fact, NaNoWriMo has become so popular, there’s even a how-to book to help with your creative process. Entitled “No Plot? No Problem!” it’s a manual for those who are attempting the NaNoWriMo challenge. There are also a bunch of other posts out there on the Internet with tons of tips and tricks from plenty of authors who have done this before. Personally, the best advice I’ve ever read was from productivity and creativity guru Merlin Mann, who said: “When I’m reading about writing, I’m not writing.”

The key with NaNoWriMo is not to attempt to write a perfect novel, but rather just churn out the words first and edit later. Sure, your novel may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but no book’s first draft is perfect. That’s why there’s National Novel Editing Month (or NaNoEdMo) in March.

Personally, I don’t have the time to dedicate to 30 days of hardcore writing. So, I’m declaring November to also be National Outline Something To Write Over Winter Break, I Mean Seriously Dude Month (or NOSTWOWiBrIMSDuMo).

It’s my way of still making a serious difference in my writing, without subjecting myself to what would be abject torture with my current workload.

What’s really awesome about NOSTWOWiBrIMSDuMo, aside from its hilariously long acronym, is that it can involve you. That’s right: you, dear reader, are more than welcome to join me in my quest this month.

If you’re interested in forming a community around outlining, drop me a line in the comments for this article at www.whitmanpioneer.com, or send me an email at [email protected]

Also, just because it’s crazy for me to dedicate the better part of my life to writing 50,000 words in a month, doesn’t mean that you can’t. I’d love to hear about your successes, trials and tribulations when it comes to this month.