NaNoWriMo in Fictionistas Land
Join us for a month of writing!
It’s finally autumn (at least in the northern hemisphere). It’s time for snuggly sweaters, falling leaves, jack-o-lanterns, and pumpkin-spiced everything. And for those south of the equator, it’s springtime, and you get all the flowers and butterflies.
Either way, for writers across the globe, it means something else: NaNoWriMo is just around the corner.
What is NaNoWriMo?
In a nutshell, NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a writing challenge in which you write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. You “win” if you achieve that word count by November 30th. As part of NaNoWriMo, there are writers all over the world that come together via the official forums as well as local in-person and virtual write-ins throughout the month, and the NaNoWriMo organization sends out periodic “pep talks” and publishes other resources on their website to help you along.
As a participant, officially, you’re supposed to start a brand-new novel project, and although you can do pre-planning beforehand (and that’s encouraged!), you can only start writing at midnight on Nov 1st.
However, many people are “rebels” (which is totally okay!) and use NaNoWriMo to continue an existing project or write short stories, memoirs, poetry, or even nonfiction.
And not everyone ultimately “wins.” At the end of the day, all that matters is that you:
wrote more words than you would have otherwise
made connections with other writers
learned more about writing and yourself as a writer
For more information on how it works, and to sign up, visit the official NaNoWriMo site.
Why should you participate?
Do you want to write a novel (your first or your 20th)? Are you looking for accountability and motivation to keep the words flowing? Do you want to meet and interact with fellow writers? Is it time you take on a new writing challenge?
If you said yes to any of these questions, then you have a great reason to participate.
Personally, from my years doing NaNoWriMo I’ve learned so much about the novel-writing process and have gotten vastly better at first drafts. I’ve also overcome the need to write perfect sentences on the first go, and managed to shut down my super critical internal editor. All of these things were possible because, with NaNoWriMo, all words are good words, and you don’t delete anything—if something doesn’t work, you make a note and keep going.
I’ve also grown addicted to being part of a writing community that, for a full month, is all focused on the same goal. In fact, I’ve met some of my best friends through NaNoWriMo.
And seriously, it really is a lot of fun!
How Fictionistas will keep things going
We know it can be hard to tackle a challenge like this alone, and while many of us are blessed with active NaNoWriMo communities where we live, not everyone has that good fortune, especially outside of the US.
But there’s good news for everyone. At Fictionistas we’ve got your back.
Each Monday in November, and then at the end, we’ll post a discussion thread here on Fictionistas. Use these threads to discuss your project, what’s going well, and where you might be struggling. Share your word counts. Ask questions. Tell us what you’re working on. And most of all, use these threads to cheer on anyone who gets discouraged and help them keep going.of Stop Writing Alone plans to offer a number of virtual write-ins throughout November for her subscribers (so you should subscribe!), she offers this:
In my monthly partnership withand Fictionistas in which we share writing prompts to inspire fiction, this November we are committing to Remember NaNoWriMo! Our November prompt will cater to our binge-writing buddies, promising to be an open door to writing a scene in your work in progress, rather than writing a short story that may distract from it. If you are participating in NaNoWriMo and want to make sure all the words you write go directly toward your 50,000 word goal, we’ve got you covered! We will share a writing prompt to alleviate any of your week two writing blockades!
If you have other ideas for how Fictionistas can support writers during November, let us know in the comments!
And. as a reminder — to participate in all of these events, all you need to do is subscribe to Fictionistas so you get notifications as these things happen.
NaNoWriMo veterans speak out
As I said, I believe NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity for all writers. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what other Fictionistas — and NaNoWriMo veterans — have to say about the challenge:of Write More with Simon K Jones tells us,
NaNoWriMo played a vital part in me becoming a writer. I tend to mark 2015 as the point when I began writing 'seriously', which is when I began writing serial fiction online. Rewind a bit further and it's 2009 NaNoWriMo, when I wrote a rough draft of a novella called Of Rock and Earth. It wasn't very good and it's dated horribly, but it was 50k words that wouldn't have existed without NaNoWriMo. It was another six years before I finally figured out how to be my kind of writer, but 2009 NaNoWriMo was a vital stepping stone. I suspect I may never have made the leap to where I am now without that early encouragement. My main tip would be to not worry about quality - it's the one time you're given permission to just go for it. You can edit it afterwards. That propulsive forward momentum is what makes NaNoWriMo so exciting, and such a good motivator.
Nicole Rivera says this about her NaNoWriMo experience:
When I started the Stop Writing Alone podcast it was largely inspired by my participation in NaNoWriMo — a month of internet fever over the creation of novel and novelists alike. I often tell people if you have any interest in writing fiction you have to give yourself the gift of giving it a go at least once. NaNoWriMo begins as just a website to find writing community events, word count stats and pep talks during the month of November. If you stick with it, as I have, NaNoWriMo transforms into a season of inspiration. After my initial participation in 2011 showed me that I had the capability of being a novel writer, I no longer need convincing, but I return year after year to be reinvigorated by the community events — both virtual and in person — to build relationships that are needed year-round as a writer. Over the years in NaNoWriMo I have released a number of stories from my soul and imagination, and in doing so, made extra room for relationships with fellow writers that I imagine will last a lifetime.
Heather Huffman also found inspiration in NaNoWriMo. As she explains,
What I love about NaNoWriMo is the flutter of excitement that can be felt ‘round the world. Hundreds of thousands writing a novel at the same time with all of the community support is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It helps build and maintain the excitement for my own projects.
Andof The Warthog Report writes,
NaNoWriMo is great not just for getting writing done, but for finding and forming community. I've made some friends through NaNoWriMo who have helped me immensely as a writer. The goal isn't really the important part, it's a key part, but what matters about it is that it gets you moving, not achieving it. It's a great way to finally move from thinking and planning to action. And to find other people doing the same.
Are you ready to join in the fun?
If all of the above has convinced you to give NaNoWriMo a try, head over to the official NaNoWriMo website and create an account and announce your November project (it’s free!). Find your local region and see if there are any events coming up (many areas offer workshops, write-ins, parties, and other activities). And absolutely plan to come back for a visit to Fictionistas throughout the month of November. We’ll be excited to have you on board!
If you’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo before, we’d love to hear from you. What advice do you have for newbies? And if this is your first time, hooray! We can’t wait to hear how it goes.