NaNoWriMo is just around the corner

It's that time of year again. November is almost here. For some, this means that the holiday silly season is about to begin, but for many writers, November is an extremely important time of the year. November is NaNoWriMo.

For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, although, it really should be international. Basically, writers commit the month of November to their writing, aiming to write a minimum of 50,000 words within one month. It may sound like a lot of words to some, but the first Harry Potter is 76,944 words.

NaNoWriMo is FREE to join, but the benefits of the program go beyond the prizes that winners get at the end of the month. The community of NaNoWriMo is huge — truly international. There are motivational posts from established writers (like Grant Faulkener, Neil Gaiman and Brandon Sanderson, just to name a few). You have access to the community forums, and there are events that are run within local regions.

To join, just go to the NaNoWriMo website and sign up. To get access to everything, you just join, but if you want to be in for the prizes at the end of November, don't forget to specify a project.

I, myself, have taken part in NaNoWriMo since 2014 and have been the co-Municipal Liaison (ML) for my region since 2015. I have participated in every NaNoWriMo and CampNaNoWriMo event since I joined NaNoWriMo, and I will likely continue to do so for years to come. For me, it's not about the personal goal of 50,000 words in a month (although that plays a big role). It's more about the community and reminding myself that I'm not alone on this writing path.

In a post that I wrote last year, I reminded all that NaNoWriMo is not just about the word-count goal, but rather developing a habit for writing that you can carry with you in the months after. There is documented evidence that it takes in the order of 21 – 66 days to from a habit. November has 30 days. That goes a long way.

A little everyday on any project you like. The only one imposing restrictions on your project is you.

The purists of NaNoWriMo will spout out that you need to write a new story — a new fiction novel — but even the folks at head office recognize that writers are driven to work on many different types of projects every year. Projects can be nonfiction, fiction, short stories, flash fiction — anything really. If you have a manuscript that you are still drafting, carry that over into NaNoWriMo. If you are a blogger, add your blogs into your word counts. In fact, there is no reason why you need to be working on new words. Edit an older project, if you'd like. Writers come in all different styles.

NaNoWriMo Project Badges

NaNoWriMo projects don't need to be new novels. Be a rebel and work on any project you'd like (including editing).

There are some who have expressed concerns about how NaNoWriMo validates word counts and the winners. Well, rest assured that the only one that you need to hold yourself accountable to is yourself. NaNoWriMo does not keep a record of your entry. In fact, if you want, you can use a Lorem Ipsum generator to create a document of nonsensical words up to the word count that you wrote. This is what I do, because I'm often working on multiple projects throughout the month. If I cheat, the only one who suffers is myself.

However, the word count goal is only part of it. Granted the prizes are handy at times (discounts for Scrivener, Scribophile, Aeon Timeline and other writer's resources), but for me, the real prize is the community.

The writing community within my home city is extremely active, and NaNoWriMo only adds to that, with write-ins held throughout the city, social events and the like. However, online activities are just as rewarding.

Jessie's Coffee ShopJessie Sanders of KLRNRadio hosts a chat room on her website that is dedicated to writers and our NaNoWriMo events. MLs from around the world volunteer their time to host virtual write-ins. Active regions include Fayetteville, North Carolina, Upper Queensland, Australia and Christchurch, New Zealand. ALL writers are welcome. You never know exactly who you're going to meet.

I also moderate several groups on Facebook. Marshmallows and Spaghetti was birthed from a CampNaNoWriMo event where all of us in the cabin wanted to stay in touch. The group is small, but it is growing.

This just goes to show that the only prizes aren't the only ones listed on the NaNoWriMo site. You never know, you might develop lifelong friendships with writers from around the world, finding critique partners, beta readers and a shoulder to cry on when the stresses of the publishing industry become too much.

Writers, I invite you to join in the NaNoWriMo fun. If nothing else, you can join the community.

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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2017

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