I don’t remember when I first started Nanowrimo, but I know I’ve been a member at least ten years. I have gone from agonizing over the 50,000 words in November to doing my own Camp Nanos in the off months. It’s been a great motivator for me.
What is Nanowrimo? It’s short for National Novel Writing Month and it began in San Francisco in 1999. The organizer and his twenty-one fellow writing enthusiasts did it in July the first year, but the next year they chose November. The reasoning was that the weather was crappy then and most people were stuck inside anyway. The basic idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. If you want to succeed, there is no editing, no stressing over continuity—you just let the words flow and flow.
By the third year, 5,000 people registered to do Nano, and it was off and running. Later two Camp Nanos were added. They are held in April and July. Camp Nanowrimo allows the participant to choose their own word count.
Even before the camps, a Nanowrimo for kids was developed. Called the Young Writers Program, children as young as Kindergarten age can participate. The kids get to choose how many words they will write in the month. Some teachers sign up their whole class!
As I said, Nano is a terrific motivator, holding me accountable to write. There were years, when I was still working full time, that I was too tired to write, but having that goal set for myself gave me the extra oomph to ‘get ’er done.’ Or at least try.
In the early days, I didn’t make it to the 50,000 words I needed to win, but I might have 30,000, or 40,000. I had done something besides watch television.
What Nano isn’t? You don’t automatically have a finished novel if you complete the month with your 50,000 words. I’ve heard some people gripe that Nano promises the writer a novel by the end of the month. No! It only promises that if you finish, you will have the amount of words for a novel by November 30th. In writers’ speak, you have a first draft. If you’re like me, it’ll be a very sloppy rough draft. In what’s called the off months, Nano has programs that help the writer edit and polish the novel.
Nano also encourages the writers to be part of groups so you can cheer each other on, but I have only done that one year. It was fun, but it didn’t really help me. It probably helps some folks who want an accountability partner.
I can’t say enough good things about Nano. There have been times in my writing career when I probably would have quit if not for this motivation. The other day I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at my profile page and saw that I was over a million words. Sweet!
Oh, excuse me; I am off to put down my words on my Nano counter...
Sign up for NaNoWriMo today and find a writing buddy in your community as well as write-ins nearby!
About Susan Kite
Susan was an Army brat; which means she grew up everywhere. She didn't begin to settle down until her dad did. Ms. Kite earned two degrees at Utah State University; a bachelor's in secondary English and a master's degree in Instructional Media. It was during that time that she began dabbling in writing. However, the author didn't get serious until her children were grown. Now it is a contagious disease that she doesn't want cured! She was a school librarian for 35 years, mostly in Tennessee. "I loved finding new and wonderful reads for kids. I am now retired and live near Oklahoma City with my terrific husband, an opinionated old chiweenieterrier, Sammy, and two manic black cats, Scamp and Zorro." To learn more about Susan, visit her website http://www.bookscape.net.