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Do you NaNo?

October 20, 2020



Do you NaNo?

By Rochelle Melander


Do you NaNoWriMo?


The National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) event brings people together to do one wild and crazy task: write a 50,000-word book in a month. I’ve done it nearly every year for a decade, and have used it to write several novels, two nonfiction books, a book proposal, and more.


Are you thinking about doing NaNoWriMo but not sure you have what it takes to succeed? Here’s how to bend the NaNoWriMo rules and win at National Novel Writing Month:


Dump the Demons

So when you start thinking, “Maybe I COULD do NaNoWriMo this year,” your inner demons will probably start mumbling derogative things like,

“You really can’t write that fast.”

“You? Write a novel? (evil laughter)”

“Don’t you realize there’s no market for that kind of a book?”

You get the picture. If you want to do National Novel Writing Month, dump these demons and dig in. I know—that’s harder than it sounds. But NaNoWriMo is a good time to try something new and scary. You have nothing to lose. NaNo gives you a deadline and a group of cheering friends. There’s no editor or agent waiting at the end to read your book. Think of the NaNoWriMo challenge as a game—something you’re just playing at, like foosball or ping pong—and have fun.


Choose a project that matters to you

I often use National Novel Writing Month and other Write-A-Thons to work on projects I want to write but don’t have time for. I wrote Write-A-Thon during NaNoWriMo 2009 and Level Up during NaNoWriMo 2017. Last year I wrote a middle grade mystery during the month. Maybe this year, you can use the month to tackle a project:

*you have been dreaming of writing for a very long time.

*in a genre that you really want to explore.

*you have started but have not gotten around to finishing.

*you think you can self-publish and make money from.

*you think would be fun to work on but that may never sell.


And, despite what the rules say, you don’t have to write a novel (you just have to call it a novel). You can use the month to work on your screenplay, a series of poems, or that memoir about your messy childhood.


Define success

For National Novel Writing Month participants, success is defined quite narrowly: write 50,000 words in 30 days or 1667 words a day. But what if you don’t want to write that much? You can choose to define and measure success in lots of ways:

*Write or revise for a certain amount of time each day.

*Write or revise a defined number of chunks each day: three paragraphs, two scenes, a chapter or a poem.

*Write a specific number of words a day.


The NaNoWriMo site offers you one way to measure your progress: reporting the number of words you will write each day. If you choose to measure success in a different way, just enter 1667 each day you meet your goal.


Do you NaNo?

No matter how you do NaNoWriMo, don’t forget the biggest benefit to joining the game: connecting with other writers.


I do National Novel Writing Month mostly because for 30 days a year, more people in the world are doing what I do every day—putting their butt in the chair and writing.


So between now and November 1, I will be asking my friends online, “Do you NaNo?” I’m hoping to connect with other writers and cheer them on as they take off on a new writing adventure! Want to join me?

Give me a shout out on Twitter and add me to your NaNoWriMo buddy list (I’m dancingturtle).



Your turn: How will you make National Novel Writing Month work for you?




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