Below is an excerpt from a great article by Brian Klems of Writer’s Digest. He explains what NaNoWriMo is and how to get more information. I’ve won NaNo twice, the first in 2008 and then again last year in 2010. I’m in an intense debate with myself about doing it this year. It has been the single most effective tool I’ve discovered for writing; setting a word count goal and meeting or exceeding it every day for 30 days. No excuses, just writing. I’m coming off a nasty bout with the stomach flu and so everything seems insurmountable today. On the other hand, what I have I got to lose by trying? Certainly not my cookies, those are long gone.
What about you? Leave a comment and let me know if you’re up for the challenge this year. We could have a lot of fun together!
November is known by most literati as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. How it works: Start writing a 50,000-word novel on November 1 and finish by midnight on November 30th. (For in-depth details go to the NaNoWriMo.org.) I’ve participated in the event twice. First, let me share these three important takeaways from my experience.
1. It was unbelievably fun.
2. Being that productive gave me the shot of adrenaline I needed to write more.
3. I was terribly unprepared both times and ended up with 50,000 words of useless material.
OK, so “useless” may be a bit harsh, but when looking back at my past attempts I realized that if I had just done some planning and preparation, not only would I have been able to complete more words, they would have been the making of a publishable story. I bring this up because I believe that 1) You should TOTALLY try NaNoWriMo if you haven’t before—you won’t regret it and it will be one of the best writing decisions you make this year, and 2) spend the next few days preparing yourself to write a story that’s not only good, but has the structure to be great.
The key to preparing yourself for the challenge is to ask yourself these questions (which were once suggested to me by @JaneFriedman):
What’s going to happen in the story?
What does the character want?
What will the turning points be?
If you can nail these down, you will set yourself up in a much better position to write something meaningful and (potentially) publishable.