That magical time of year is almost upon us. No, not Halloween. Nope, not even Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’m talking about the time of year that writers both revere and dread–National Novel Writing Month. This month, affectionately known as NanoWrimo or Nano, is a torturous, I mean glorious, month where writers are urged to write a novel in one month. For the purposes of the month, this equals 50,000 words. Yup, 50,000 words in a month. Seems crazy, right? Well, most writers are a little crazy.
And, it can be done. Thousands of writers do it every year. I’ve done it twice.
And, sometimes, it gets pretty great results. Water for Elephants started as a Nano book.
While there are many awesome advantages to Nano, one of the downfalls is that it tends to leave out those not working on novels but still working on cranking out some words.
So, I’m here to say…
Use Nano to Your Advantage
If it’s not done right, Nano can be a huge waste of time. Devoting a month of your life to something that won’t see the light day is not a productive use of your time and is not the point of National Writing Month. The point of this writing sprint is not only the word count, it’s also to create something that can someday BE something. But, if a novel is not your focus and you spend a month pushing yourself to write 50,000 words that may never see the light of day…you’re kind of missing the point of the whole thing. The point is motivation. The point is creation. The point is to get off your butt and actually write.
So, if a novel isn’t your focus…
Make it Your Own
If you’re not working on a novel, you don’t have to force it during Nano. For example, novels have not been my focus lately, flash fiction has. I just published a book of flash and would like to publish another fairly soon. In order to get some more material, I’ve decided to use NanoWrimo to crank out a ton of flash, fast. I may not write 50,000 words, but that’s not my goal. My goal will be to have enough material to get out a volume 2 of “Flash in the Dark.”
So, what will I do differently? Rather than write 50,000 words in a month, my goal will be to write 1,000 words a day. In the flash fiction world, that’s an entire story. I’m not 100% sure what this will look like. Will I be able to write an entirely new, full story every single day? Maybe not. But I can get a lot of shitty first drafts done. I can flesh out some ideas. I can dig into a new idea I have but am not really prepared to write for November. I can get a lot of words on paper. Words that I am much more likely use than if they were written for a novel I wasn’t ready to write.
To prepare, I am prepping daily prompts. I work best with a guide and parameters and I know that. So, I’m setting myself up for success.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re prepared, Nano is an awesome kick in the butt. It’s fantastic motivation. It’s encouragement. It’s a procrastination killer that can help you create a novel where there once was nothing. If a novel is your goal and you have an idea ready to roll, do it. Do it the way it was meant to be done. Sign up on the website. Go to write-ins. Set daily words goals and write your novel.
But, if you’re like me, working on another type of writing project but still need extra motivation in order to get the words out, do something different. Make it your own. Set your own goals. But still write everyday. Still go write-ins (they are a great way to stay motivated and connect with others doing exactly what you’re doing). Still get those words out and still create something awesome.
So, whether you end up with a new novel, a bunch of short stories, half a novel, or a play, you’ll have something that wasn’t there before and THAT, my friends, sure is something.
Curious about that book I spoke of? Check out Flash in the Dark: A Collection of Flash Fiction