There’s a nip in the air, the leaves are turning fiery colors, and pumpkins are king. It’s autumn when many an author’s imagination turns to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo — https://nanowrimo.org/).
What is NaNoWriMo?
If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. You sign up at the website, track your progress, and get encouragement all along the way. It’s a great way to tackle writing a novel for the first time or to plunge into a new project. NaNoWriMo is a community of writers of differing abilities all taking on the same challenge, cheering each other on.
How Can NaNo Help You?
When you don’t have a publishing deadline to meet, this is actually a really freeing kind of writing. The idea is to stifle your ‘inner editor’ and write away, happily traveling down tangents and detailing unnecessary backstories since you never know where the good stuff will be found.
NaNo is especially helpful to ‘pantsers,’ those that begin a new project with a rough idea or no idea at all, writing by the seat of their pants. Sometimes called ‘bashers,’ these authors let loose on the keyboard, keen on getting all their ideas out, and edit, edit, edit later.
Why I NaNo…
I recently finished a three-book series and have a few new projects floating about. I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo this year in order to kick-start my next manuscript. I’ve been bogged down with book promo tasks, start of school stuff, and day-job demands that have not left a lot of time or, honestly, the motivation to work on anything new.
I started off as a pantser. My first published book, The Broken Trail, was my third NaNo novel. By the end of November, I had a very rough first draft that I spent the better part of a year revising. When I thought it was ready, I pitched it to a publisher who accepted it and gave me a three-book contract.
I tried that same approach writing the next book in the series and it was a complete failure. I blew right through the deadline with little to show for it. I found it hard to write freely when I had a very specific book I needed to produce. Eventually, with the help of a content editor, I managed to complete the book, but boy was it a slog. Wanting to avoid the same pitfalls in book three, I did some research and found the Snowflake Method. It was a good match with my writing style and surprisingly easy to do for someone who hates outlines.
This time I don’t have a specific book to deliver, and my thoughts are squishier, less developed. I’m looking forward to NaNo to let them run amok and see what they come up with. I do have a rough plot sketched out and eventual word count I’m after, so it won’t be completely by the seat of my pants. The aim is to sell whatever I end up with, but I’m excited to have a wide open page to work with again. I plan to follow every plot bunny and secondary character to see where they go.
There is a bit of pressure to get something marketable out of this since I don’t want a big break between the finished series and my next book, but I feel like this is a chance to recharge my creative batteries and embrace all the possibilities.
Have you ever tried NaNo? Interested? Sound off in the comments with any questions you may have or what your experience has been. I’d love to hear from you.