Some of my fondest memories of my school years involve plotting out elaborate stories full of drama and adventure.
It seems only natural that in high school, I would find and become obsessed with the phenomenon of NaNoWriMo after learning about it through one of many VlogBrothers videos plugging the program. But what is NaNoWriMo, and how does one participate?
NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month – it comes around every year and has since 1999. The main idea is that would-be authors come together and support each other through a test of their will: starting and completing a 50,000 word manuscript throughout.
It’s a highly positive event, and authors all over social media tend to post encouraging and commiserating content at this time about meeting their daily or weekly goals.
What a person writes is also entirely up to them – if you’re not interested in or have no ideas for fiction? There’s always non-fiction, writing about actual events that happened to you or others. You might decide you want to write a cookbook, or poetry. Or, even fan work. The point is that a person has fun and enters a writing community, feeling encouraged to try for a burst of output.
Whether starting a new project, or returning to something that’s been sitting around in your files for ages, all are welcome.
Mainly an online event, NaNoWriMo has an abundance of digital resources. There are encouraging words of wisdom from published authors and previous participants in the form of essays. There are forums open for people to discuss and chat with each other. Making friends keeps a person accountable and supported as they progress and is highly encouraged. However, if you prefer to go the challenge alone, there’s no shame in that either.
Regionally, there are also in-person groups that hold meetups between authors as well. You tend to find them at local libraries, bookstores, and other communal spaces – it’s a wonderful opportunity to remind yourself you’re not going it alone in this process.
When November comes to a close, the NaNoWriMo organization urges people to become familiar with the path of getting published, leaving plenty of valuable resources up on their website to get a person started. But let’s say you’re a student and don’t have the time. You may be interested in Camp NaNo, a similar event in April and July, with an adjustable goal other than 50,000 words. Which is much more flexible for those going to school full time or not as sure of their writing process.
Overall, NaNoWriMo is a welcoming and helpful event for writers, whether they’re newbies or rather experienced. Let us at the writing center know if you plan to participate – we’d love to hear from you!