By: Kari Redmond –
National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, will soon be upon us. For the entire month of November, writers around the world rally to write at least 50,000 words during the 30 day span. This equals out to be 1,666 words per day. The hope is that at the end of the month writers will have a complete first draft of a novel.
The idea sounds simple—write, just write. Every day. For 30 days. In a row. Do not edit. Do not reread. Do not second guess. Simply get the words out so that at the end, you have a rough draft with which to work.
It might suck. In fact, it probably will suck, but that’s ok because you got the words out. The hard part is over and now you have something to work with. You’ve also accomplished something very few people have—you’ve written an entire novel length manuscript (in the course of a month, no less). Hooray!
I’m not sure why the month of November was picked for this hefty challenge, other than perhaps the nifty acronym that’s resulted from it. Why, oh why is it during the month that has one of the most important and family oriented holidays in The United States? A quick search on Reddit confirms my bafflement, yet offers no explanation, beyond the fact that NaNoWriMo has been around for over 20 years now, and changing it to a month that doesn’t have such a significant holiday just doesn’t make sense now.
Why not February? Ok, I get February—not enough days. Fine. Why not October? Only one little holiday in the month of October and it’s really only celebrated by kids? Plus, an extra day! Why not January? The start of a new year—all that hope and anticipation. Another extra day! I could go on.
Perhaps in response to the bafflement of November being the month to complete NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo was created in 2011. Camp NaNo takes place in the months of April and July. Not surprisingly, both months with no family oriented holidays.
The key difference between Camp NaNo and NaNo is that Camp NaNo is much more relaxed. You set your own goals, word count or otherwise. You work on whatever project you want—a memoir, a self help book, a poetry collection, a novel, a video game.
Before there was ever a Camp NaNoWriMo, there were NaNoWriMo rebels. There still are rebels, it’s just that now we have a few different options to complete the challenge.
A rebel is anyone who is participating in the challenge but isn’t doing the traditional 50K word novel. The idea is very similar to Camp NaNo, but a rebel still does their writing during the month of November. In addition to the type of writing a rebel might do, a rebel might also use the month to revise and edit a work in progress, or to continue with a work in progress rather than beginning a completely new novel.
I love the idea of NaNoWriMo. I love the community, the support, and the encouragement that the organization offers. I love the fact that thousands of other writers are joining me in the struggle to be creative and add words to the world. I love the accountability and the challenge of NaNo. I love the preparation and the anticipation. I love the hopefulness that it envelopes. I love the goal mindedness of it all.
What I don’t necessarily love is that it happens in November when I know there will be at least three to five days that I will not be able to write because I will be spending time with family and friends. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with fitting my words in elsewhere. I’m also ok with not ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo by reaching the 50K word goal at the end.
The whole idea of writing 1,666 words per day can be daunting. I mean that’s a lot of words and a lot of days. It can be intimidating and scary and could ultimately make one shy away from the challenge. It did for me for a few years before I ever attempted it.
Then once I attempted it, I began to see how I could make it work for me. I never really cared about winning. What I cared about was creating a daily habit of writing. NaNo was my yearly chance to reinstate that goal, to reinforce the habits, and possibly create new ones.
Now, every year as November approaches, I am given the chance to revisit my goals. I take a good look at my habits over the past year and I get giddy with goal setting and planning for the month.
This year, ahead of NaNo, I’m reading, Badass Habits-Cultivate The Awareness, Boundaries, And Daily Upgrades You Need To Make Them Stick, by Jen Sincero. It helps you create a solid goal and gives you the steps to stick with it.
I’m using NaNo this year to help me with the goal of writing creatively five times a week which I formed with the help of Sincero’s book. There’s no word count, and it’s not seven days a week, but it’s butt in chair and being writerly.
This may mean I’m outlining a story idea, or I’m revising my work in progress, or I’m writing a poem. It may also mean I’m researching agents or literary journals or magazines to submit my short pieces. So while I’m not banging out 1,666 words per day, I am taking daily steps toward my ultimate goal of publication and ultimately feeling like a ‘real’ writer.
I could do this any month, sure. But doing it in November when I know I’m not alone, when I know I’ve got the support and encouragement of a community of writers doing very similar things, makes it that much easier and therefore, that much more achievable.
Are you ready for NaNo? Is it your first time? Your 12th time? How have you made it work for you? What changes or steps could you take to make it work better for you? I encourage you to explore how you can make NaNoWriMo the most effective and helpful for you and start this November. Welcome to the club, you rebel.
Kari Redmond is an English as a Second Language teacher trainer living in Fort Collins, Colorado. She’s written two literary novels, This Story Takes Place in a Bar, and What We Let Go. She also writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Her work has been published in a variety of literary journals including, The 2020 Colorado Book award winner for best anthology, Rise: An Anthology of Change. The 2020 winner of the Colorado Book Award for best anthology, The Tulip Tree Review, and Brilliant Flash Fiction. Aside from writing, her passions include attending live music festivals, SCUBA diving, reading, and her biggest passion is traveling. Her goal is to visit every country in the world. She is currently at #67.