Friday, November 1, 2013

Secrets of Kidlit: Wondering if you should do NaNoWriMo? You should!

Does the idea of writing a novel in only 30 days sound crazy?

Okay, yeah, it actually does. But you should still do it.

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an online writing project open to anyone who would like to attempt writing 50,000 words on a new novel during the month of November. For those committed to the win, that works out to writing 1,667 words every day of the month.

When talking about the virtues of NaNoWriMo, there are plenty of people that will tell you why you should write a novel and why you should do it in the 30 days of November.

But I want to tell you why you should use NaNoWriMo to concentrate on the act of writing itself.

 tonyhall via Flick

1. NaNoWriMo makes writing a priority
Since the word count goal does not take a day off, it pushes you to not take a day off from writing towards it. The high demand forces you to focus on your writing. And putting that much work and energy into your writing will help you create your writing habit. Your new habit won’t end in December- it will keep going. 

2. NaNoWriMo helps you avoid procrastination
Writers are notorious for procrastination. It comes under many names: research, writer’s block, email, cleaning.... This can be solved with a bit of accountability to keep you from putting off your writing. With NaNoWriMo, you have a deadline: November 30th. You have a goal: 50,000 words. You don’t have time for rewriting your opening, checking Facebook and emails, or waiting for inspiration to hit you. You need to get your butt in the chair and start writing the words.

3. NaNoWriMo gives you a writing community
It’s not surprising that many writers are introverts, those that prefer to ruminate and get their social interactions in smaller doses. Writing is a solitary endeavor. Only you can make the words appear on your page, no one else can do that for you. But a community offers support that is important to writers, whether they are introverted or extroverted. A writing community, such as the NaNoWriMo forum, fellow writers on Twitter, or critique partners, can hold you accountable to your goals. I find the competition between writers to be motivating and love to do “word sprint challenges,” where we see who can write the most words in a set amount of time. But I think the most important thing is having a group that will support you when you’re down and cheer for you when you’re up.

How can you make NaNoWriMo work for you?

Of course, there are certainly those who choose to make their own goals for NaNoWriMo, earning them the status of “rebel” for not following the rules. They may choose to write something other than a novel, work on previously started projects, or alter their word count goals. All of these are fine. Actually, they’re better than fine. They’re perfect. The point of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing and what works for YOU is exactly what you should do.

Tammy Strobel via Flickr
1. Make NaNoWriMo personal
Set attainable goals that fit your life and writing style. Maybe 50,000 words is too much. If you can only write 650 words a day, know that’s 19,500 more than you had on November 1st. Or make a goal that isn’t about word counts. Edit your work-in-progress, outline a new idea, or just work on establishing that habit of writing.

2. Turn off the inner editor
NaNoWriMo encourages free-flowing, “stream of consciousness” writing. If it wanders off course, follow it. It might be headed somewhere better. Don’t go back to correct spelling and punctuation. Most importantly, don’t go back to rewrite parts of your novel. The ending really determines the beginning, so you can’t know what to edit until you have the whole novel finished, anyway.

3. Writing time is for writing
Don’t confuse non-writing tasks with writing. Thinking about plot holes, adding notes to an outline, researching backstory, or confirming facts online all waste time that you should be writing. Work out your plot twist while you do the dishes. Research instead of googling cat videos. When it’s time to write, write. Which leads us to my next point;

4. Focus
Keep your head in your writing and your eyes on your page. Procrastination is a problem for writers, but distraction is their nemesis. They come as chatty friends, demanding kids, phone calls, emails, social media and the Black Hole of Google. Don’t get sidetracked with internet searches or Twitter feeds. Make a note in your manuscript to come back if you need to look up something. Only check your email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. at set times outside of writing time. If you can’t restrain yourself, turn your phone and internet off while you write.

All of this is to say, actually writing is the most important part of writing. And NaNoWriMo is about just that. So do it. Good luck!

Are you joining the NaNoWritMo bandwagon? If so, let me know! Are you on Twitter? Follow @NaNoWriMo and @NaNoWordSprints to connect with other writers. Also, many of the bloggers here at Kidliterati use the Twitter hashtag #Campbeta when we NaNo. Join us!

-- Becky A.


  1. These are the very reasons I do NaNo:) I'm a professional procrastinator, but the WC goal keeps me moving forward. Great post. Hope everyone had a great 1st day!

    1. Too bad you can't earn a living as a professional procrastinator! Writers are quite good at it. :) I finally came up with my story idea and have a few words on the page. I'll be "sprinting" tonight. I hope your writing went well today!

  2. Becky, I like your advice to make NaNoWriMo personal. As a "rebel" this year, I couldn't agree more. All writers can tap into the momentum and community of NaNo, whether they're shooting for 50,000 words or not.

    1. Exactly! There is no need to feel pressured or like you are not fully participating just because your goals don't match up with NaNo's. Enjoy the community and the process!


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