Are you one of those people who has a novel inside them but never put it on paper / screen? Then National Novel Writing Month, or ‘NaNoWriMo’ / ‘NaNo’ as it is better known, could just be the thing for you.
Pre-2008 I’d heard many authors say they write a novel a year. I didn’t want to spend a year on one story (I’m a short story writer and used to write a story a day for this blog’s 5PM Fiction slot) so when I heard that I could write one in a month I couldn’t wait to get started. For details on my NaNoWriMo experiences (up to July 2011) take a look at Tia Bach’s website. Writersonthemove.com also has an interesting article on NaNo.
At least 50,000 words in the 30 days of November… sound tough? It’s 1,667 words a day. Still daunting? Don’t worry, the joy of NaNoWriMo is that if you slip behind on a weekday because the day job gets in the way then you have the weekends to catch up… just don’t do what I did last year and write 3,000 words on the first day then have 47,000 words to write in the last eight! I did it but a 21-hour day on one of those is not something I really want to repeat.
The rules: Simple, you can plan as much as you like before midnight on 1st November but you can’t write a word of your novel until then. Then you keep going at whatever speed you like until midnight 31st November.
My word counts were: 53,000 in November 2008, 117,540 words in Nov 2009 (in 29 days!), 51,300 words November 2010 and then I scraped through the 50,000 barrier (with less than an hour to spare) in 2011 and a few hours spare in 2012.
My sixth novel, a very dark serial killer crime novel, just scraped through with 51,555 words in the 30 days, although I did have three days where I wrote nothing, and two days where I wrote <100 words. My best day was Nov 30th where I wrote 8,409 to catch up, shame there wasn’t a 31st!).
I did my first Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2013 (the second in the serial killer trilogy) for which I wrote 50,115 despite the target only being 10,000 words!
I was then going to write the third of the serial killer trilogy but didn’t have time (because I was so busy client editing) to re-read the first two, so I wrote about a talking dog with attitude for NaNoWriMo, Nov 2013, a novel which started life as a 5PM Fiction short story. Having written the first 1,690 words on day 15, I added another 1,885 on day 19 then wrote nothing until day 25 when I really got going, writing an average of 10,000 words a day. I finally finished with 50,065 words at 11.10pm (UK time) on Saturday 30th November, then had a very long sleep.
Although I didn’t make the 50,000 words, I did go over the 1,000 word minimum for Camp NaNo 2014 with 22,323 words of a standalone crime novel called ‘One for the Road’ for Camp NaNoWriMo and although I enjoyed it, I struggled to have the time to write because of my teaching and client editing.
Camp NaNoWriMo is on again July 2014 but I won’t be doing it as I want to get my online courses up and running which I had been planning to do in March!
The official NaNo websites are www.nanowrimo.org and http://campnanowrimo.org where you can register (for free, they rely on donations) at any time. I’m on there as Morgen Bailey so if you sign up, come find me.