The Value of NaNoWriMo

Next week (wow, time evaporates!), on November 1, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts again. For the uninitiated, this is an annual event where writers of all levels, from across the globe, hunker down and try to write a complete novel of 50,000 words (approximately 250 pages, double-spaced, 12-pt font, 1-inch margins) in one month (NaNoWriMo ends on November 30). The “winners” — those who reach or surpass the 50K goal — get bragging rights and discounts on various book-related goods and services (ebooks, self-publishing platforms, etc).

NaNoWriMo is more about the journey than the destination. Its primary goal is to encourage writing, and to connect writers to a community of support that will help facilitate writing. There is a large and vibrant virtual community, which primarily consists of message boards where one can find like-minded individuals by age, preferred writing genres, hobbies, location, etc.; as well as emailed “pep talks” by published authors such as Veronica Roth [the Divergent series]), self-published authors, and past NaNoWriMo winners). You can also connect with writing buddies from anywhere in the world. There are also real-life events hosted by region (kickoff parties, “write-ins”–where fellow NaNoWriMos gather to just sit and write for strerches of time, and to support each other on this writing journey.

NaNoWriMo is free to join and participate, although donations are encouraged to help keep things going, and also to fund programs like the NaNoWriMo Young Writers. The main benefit of NaNoWriMo is just to get people over the inertia of writing–which could be due to fear (“I’ve never written a book”; “I don’t know what to write about”; “OMG, I have to write 50,000 words?!”), or time constraints (“I have a job/family/school; how can I finish 50K words in a month?”; or something else.

It has helped me, even in the many years prior in which I didn’t finish/”win”. I was able to play around with some ideas and see if they were viable from a writing standpoint. I was able to get into a writing groove (it didn’t always stick, but at least I knew where the groove was should I choose to revisit it). I found other interesting writers, both online and in real life. I felt more like a writer.

One of the things I like about NaNoWriMo is that it meets you where you are. You don’t have to be a published author, or a journalist, or work in publishing. You may have a blog, or your writing may be limited to  grocery or to-do lists. You may love to read and have secretly harbored a desire to write a book. You can be a citizen of your country, undocumented, on a visa, or just passing through. You can be any race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political stance. You can write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. You can write romance, horror, science fiction, suspense, “chick lit”, serious fiction, scientific manuals, religious commentary, self-help books–whatever you like or whoever you are, there is a place for you.

I finally “won” NaNoWriMo in 2013, and the result was my first solo published novel, The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille. Just completing this goal after six years of not finishing NaNoWriMo made me proud of myself. I’m looking forward to this year, as I have a story that is itching to come out (whee!).

So if you are so inclined, join me from Nov. 1-30 and let’s work on our novels. Feel free to add me as a buddy (my user name is afrosaxon). You have a story inside; it’s time to let it out.

Thanks for stopping by.

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