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National Novel Writing Month

Writing.ie | Resources | Developing Your Craft

Sally Clements

Get ready – November is NaNoWriMo Month! For those who haven’t heard, November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a month-long event, set up by writer Chris Baty that has been running now since 1999. In that first year, 21 writers in the San Francisco Bay Area, decided to take part. The concept is simple. Complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Working on the premise that writing flourishes when freed from the constraint of ‘making it perfect’ the goal of Wrimos is to start writing on the 1st of November with no preconceived notions of what they are going to write. Plotters may start putting together an outline, and Pantsters just have an idea and dive right in. The trick is to write – no editing allowed. And see where the story takes you. I first did NaNoWriMo in 2002, when it was still fairly obscure and unknown. At that stage, the only writing I ever did was during November, and I still remember the huge boost in confidence it gave me when I passed my target – and won! The way NaNo works, is you sign up to take part on the website – make a voluntary contribution towards costs if you have any spare cash, and think it’s worth it, buy yourself a tee-shirt/mug/poster etc, if you want to, and create 1,666 words per day to stay on target. Every week, inspiring emails will arrive into your inbox, urging you on. These are written by guest authors, and are great! Every time your wordcount goes up, you enter it into the site, and a word counter automatically advances to show you what percentage you’ve completed. You can connect with other friends and Wrimos online, go to parties where like-minded writers will be tapping away on their laptops (or drinking pints), and generally feel part of a global phenomenon, while at the same time writing a novel. And here’s the good part – no-one expects your novel to be any good. There are excellent worldwide forums where you can ask any question about anything, and help out other writers who might ask questions like: ‘What are the police called in Ireland, and what sort of guns do they have?’ or ‘What are the opening hours of the Louvre?’ And because you’re communicating with a bunch of writers who know that you need the answer, and need it fast, you can be guaranteed a quick and accurate response! When the month is over, or earlier if you manage 50,000 before month end, you submit your manuscript to the automatic word counting robots on the site, who will verify that you’ve written that many words, and make you a winner, giving you a lovely badge to stick on your website. There’s no publishing contract. No careful evaluation of your story to make sure that it hangs together right. All those things may follow after you’ve done a second and third draft, but they don’t matter in November. All that matters is writing, having fun, and freeing your inner muse. Why not make this November the month for finally getting that novel onto paper? To sign up for NaNoWriMo, check in to their website now. Have fun!

About the author

(c) Sally Clements, October, 2011. Sally Clements is an exhausted full-time writer, who writes romance. Check out her website: Love and Chocolate. She is also on twitter @sallywriter. She’s signed up, but isn’t sure if she’s going to do Nano this year – maybe its time for a break – but if she’s doing it, her nano alter ego is Darcy Raven.

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