Last week, my fellow Romance on the Rocks blogger and author, Michelle Ingrid, wrote about participating in NaNo and the power of words in her personal and writing lives. She inspired me to talk about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is in full swing, and how and why I do it.
November is a stressful, exciting time for authors who want to challenge themselves to write a novel—50,000 words—in one month. For those not in the publishing industry, 50,000 words equates to about 175 pages (some sites claim up to 250 pages, but I’d rather be conservative). To give you a visual here’s a list of well-known, influential books that are around 50,000 words (from Wikiwrimo):
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (46,333 words)
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (50,061 words)
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (52,000 words)
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (46,118 words)
- The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The first draft of my NaNo WIP (work in progress) won’t be fit for my dog to eat let alone critique partners or editors or readers to peruse. But I will have the foundation for my next story. As best-selling novelist Nora Roberts has said in her honest pep talks to writers, “You can’t edit a blank page.”
Why do I participate in NaNo?
- It forces me to write. I have accountability for that month. I have an account on NaNo’s site that tracks my progress using charts and badges and I can see my progress.
- It is exhilarating to set a writing goal each day and reach it.
- It teaches me to become a better writer by writing more often. Dr. Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist and professor at Florida State University, is a researcher and expert on expertise. He found that 10,000 hours (20 hours for 50 weeks a year for ten years = 10,000) of deliberate practice will make someone an expert in almost anything. Many argue that feedback and improving your craft during this time is as crucial as the hours put in, which is what happens after NaNo when my critique partners and I bleed all over it with our red and purple pens.
It gives me a product. At the end of the month, I will have the framework for a book. I will have words and plotlines to edit. NaNo isn’t a futile exercise. After I am finished, a story idea will exist and the possibilities are tangible. My first NaNo book, an urban fantasy written 10 years ago, is now on Kindle Scout, a site where Amazon allows readers to nominate books for their publishing program. Click on the image to check it out and read what I accomplished. NaNo gives authors a boost to create stories and have a full-length novel to show for their efforts.
How do I finish NaNoWriMo?
For me, there is only one answer to this: with a little help from my friends (a quote from my favorite Beatles song). They support me on social media. They meet up to write in groups. When I hit a brick wall, they toss me a ladder. I get through NaNo—in fact, all my writing road blocks—with help from my friends.
What about you? Why do you participate in NaNo? How do you accomplish your writing goals?