I suspect that many Cannonballers are familiar with National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. For the past 20 years, every November a bunch of writers all over the world dedicate November to completing a 50,000 word novel. Why 50,000? It’s about the size of Fahrenheit 451, Fight Club, The Great Gatsby, and lots of other great books. To “win” NaNoWriMo, you have to write an average of 1,667 words a day. Prior to 2019 I had participated in NaNoWriMo three or four times but only completed a rough raft in one of those years – my first year. It was pretty grueling, to be honest.
This year I joined a looked writers’ group via the Meetup app and they had a pre-NaNo meeting giving tips and strategies, as well as a suggested reading list. Chris Baty is a Silicon Valley type and one of the founders of this crazy idea, and he wrote No Plot? No Problem! as a guide for other NaNo participants. The book is mostly encouragement that you really can finish a novel draft in a month. It also includes a helpful week-by-week guide of what to expect emotionally and how to get past common obstacles. It also includes practical tips about establishing writing areas and times, managing work and family, and more. Finally, there are some tips about what to do with your rough draft once it’s finished (spoiler – a rough draft isn’t ready for publishing).
I’m proud to say I successfully “won” NaNoWriMo this year with a suburban mystery I’m still infatuated with and I’ll start work on my second draft in January. This book was helpful in providing some rollercoaster tracks, encouragement, and managing my expectations. I don’t think I would’ve finished this year but for this book. It truly made the process much less stressful than my previous four attempts.
Whether you participate in NaNo or not, I do think it teaches a lesson about creativity – sometimes it’s best to send the inner editor and critic out on vacations whilst the rest of you can create with full imagination.
My verdict? This is a great tool for National Novel Writing Month participants but not necessary for other writers.