NaNoWhoMo? NaNoWriMo is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. That is when over 100,000 writers spend the month of November writing 50,000 word novels. If you write every day, that averages out to 1,667 words per day. On November 1, you start with a blank page, and by November 30, you have a complete 50,000+ word novel. You can sign up on NaNoWriMo’s site. It is free and it allows you to join a community of writers taking on the same challenge.
This sounds scary, but it really isn’t. First of all, the novel you end up with on December 1 is not one that will be ready to be published. It is just a first draft, and it needs to be polished. The key is that you have finished a first draft. In order to finish in just 30 days you need to turn off your inner editor and just write. Don’t worry too much about word choice or perfect descriptions. If you make a change that affects a part of the book that is already written, make a note about the change (include the date the change was made, where in the novel you made the change, and what parts of the novel need to be updated) and keep moving forward. There will be plenty of time to make corrections after November.
By signing up for NaNo, you are joining a community of writers that are willing to help. There are several forums where you can get tips, have questions answered, or just blow off steam. You can have writing buddies that encourage you throughout the month. And finally, there are regional groups that you can join that tend to have write-ins where several members meet to write together.
NaNoWriMo helps remove one of the biggest obstacles facing new novelists, and that is not finishing a first draft. Too many new novelists spend too much time at the beginning trying to perfect their writing. This slows the process down and can make it difficult to finish the first draft. Also, some earlier chapters or scenes will be cut because of something that happens later in the writing process. If the writer spent a lot of time polishing their writing as they go they will face two choices: cut their beautifully written work or force it into a novel that it may not fit anymore. This is avoided if you just keep moving forward.
The first draft is going to be terrible, utterly unreadable. But you will have a first draft with which to work with. That is what NaNoWriMo is all about. There cannot be a published novel without a first draft. Once you finish the first draft, the real work begins. That is when you go back and start making corrections. There are several steps to go through before a book is ready to be published, but it all starts with having a first draft to work with.