Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Make Writing a Sport with NaNoWriMo

In my creative writing seminar in my senior year of college, one of the other students kept coming in with a hoodie on. It had this strange word across the front:


Our professor asked her what it stood for. "National Novel Writing Month," she said. "You write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days." 

Like many, our professor scoffed at the idea. What kind of good work can you produce in 30 days? 

Well, with the ever-growing number of books that are coming out having begun as a NaNoWriMo challenge, the answer very well may be...a lot. 

I've participated in NaNoWriMo for a full decade now, and while I haven't finished every year (but I've finished more often than I haven't!), it's a funny thing...it works. See, NaNo creates competition. Humans thrive on competition. You know this firsthand if you've ever tried to get a little kid to clean up by saying, "I bet I can put more toys in the toybox than you can!" Something about feeling like you're doing something and accountable to other people for "winning" creates a primal drive that can get you to do almost anything.  

Now, the Office of Letters and Light sponsors two other noveling events each year, during Camp NaNoWriMo. So no matter where you are in the year, a 30-day frenzy isn't too far away. Yes, yes, ideally, we all write a little bit every day. But if you've fallen off the wagon and need a kick in the pants to get you moving, or just want to step on the accelerator with a work you've had jangling around in the recesses of your brain...log on to NaNoWriMo.org and make your writing a no-holds-barred competition.

And if you're not into NaNoWriMo, there are lots of other ways to create competition--try doing a word war with your critique partner(s), or for year-round NaNo-like craziness (including the fun of community!) join the #WriteClub hashtag for word sprints on Twitter.

NaNoWriMo (Novermber)
Camp NaNoWriMo (April and July)
What is Write Club? (Megan Whitmer's Blog)

This month I'm participating in the A-Z blog challenge. My theme is "writer hacks," or 26 shortcuts you can do as a writer to get the most out of writing and the journey toward and through publication. Find out more about it at a-to-zchallenge.com, and hop around to read the other cool blogs that are part of the challenge! 


  1. I've never done Nano, but know many writers who did and enjoyed it ... produced some very good works. For me, it's the time issue (I never seem to have enough time) ... but it's sure something to keep in mind and maybe attempt one day.

    Silvia @ Silvia Writes

    1. It's so hard, because the thing is, no one ever has time to do it. But it's always been amazing to me year after year how somehow, 1667 words a day mostly appear.

      ...oooor, I make time for a 20,000-word sprint on the last day. That has happened, too. :)

  2. Hey! I've been completely MIA from the writeclub world for the last several weeks, but wanted to thank you for linking to my blog!

    1. Of course! #Writeclub is amazing, and you deserve all the props you've got coming. :)

      I've been MIA myself--had a lot of Friday night shifts at the bookstore. But I'm delighted by how it continues to grow and love to take part when I can.

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