The Pros and Pros of NaNoWriMo

by Robin Lovett
published in Writing

(Web Editor’s Note: We’re pulling this post–originally published in November 2014–out of the archives for anyone thinking about NaNoWriMo this year!)

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

-Huh?

-You know, NaNo?

-Who?

-You’re not a WriMo yet?!

-Did you just call me a ‘rhino’?

It’s not a secret code or a reference to rhinos or even atomic particles. It’s National Novel Writing Month, and the challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November is about as crazy as the name itself. You have to be a little screwy to try to write that much in thirty days. I should know. It’s my second year doing this, and I just wrote 10k in five days. My friends think my brain is growing trees.

Writing so much so quickly becomes a process sometimes known as “word dumping”—or as I like to call it, spewing onto a blank page. And whether you’re a pantser (someone who doesn’t plan) or a meticulous plotter, it can be the ultimate cure for the curse of the “inner editor”. Don’t edit, just write.

It’s a special kind of thing—one that for many is a yearly tradition that prides itself in a “seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing”.

Why Do NaNoWriMo?

Because the NaNoWriMo network is a beast. Over 300,000 people participated last year from around the globe, and at peak hours, there can be as many as 100,000 users on the website. Which enables one of the greatest parts about NaNo:

1) The Forums

There’s everything from age group hangouts to genre lounges. Word war opponents abound at any time of the day. (A game to see who can write the most words in a set number of minutes.)  A niche exists for everyone, including a place for “rebels”, writers doing non-novel related projects like poetry, screen plays, non-fiction, etc. There’s forums for the distressed writer with funny names like “NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul”.

And of course there’s the golden nugget of the “Reference Desk”, a year round forum for posting research topics where other authors can contribute their real world areas of expertise. It’s a god-given resource.

Then there’s the phenomenon of:

2) The Writing Buddy

I say phenomenon because the difference between a writing buddy and a critique partner is subtle and yet monumental. In many ways, my writing buddies are more valuable than my critique partners.

By sorting through forums, looking at writer’s pages and novel descriptions, you can add people as a ‘writing buddy’. I exchange almost daily messages with mine, and we become cheerleaders for each others achievements and challenges.

Finding a critique partner can be an intimate process as complicated as any love affair, and the “writing buddy” is a great way to kick start that ‘get to know you’ period.

3) The Local Network

The benefits of ‘going local’ when seeking out other writers is something that requires its own post. As fantastic as the forums and writing buddies are, the in-person write-ins hosted during the month of November are priceless. Volunteers in over eight hundred regions plan things like ‘Kick off Parties’, ‘All Night Write-Ins’ and ‘Thank God It’s Over’ celebrations. They make the painstaking process of giving birth to a novel a heck of a lot more fun.

And it’s how I found my local writing group.

Life After NaNoWriMo        

Towards the end of the month, a forum appears on the site called “Life After NaNo”. There’s things for people who did or did not meet their 50k goal: a contractual promise to finish your novel, a contractual promise to edit your novel. There’s promotional coupons for writing software, free proof copies of your book, plus advice from a mirade of self-publishing companies.

Other organizations replay the team spirit of spewing a word count of any size with a group of people. You can find it for any month of the year. NaNoWriMo hosts ‘camps’ in April and July. I repeated it in January and February. I’m a special kind of crazy, but working towards a writing goal with others induces an osmosis-like effect that can be joyously addictive.

If only I could learn to edit 50k in 30 days.


Sarah-Lovett-photo-223x300Robin Lovett, also known as S.A. Lovett, writes contemporary romance, and her debut novel, Racing To You, will be released July of 2016. She is represented by Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins Agency and has a forthcoming series releasing with SMP Swerve in the summer of 2017.

She writes romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs and housework. To feed her coffee and chocolate addictions, she loves overdosing on mochas. When not writing with her cat, you can find her somewhere in the outdoors with a laptop in her bag. Feel free to chat with her on Twitter.

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