Monday, October 20, 2008

NaNoWriMo – Annual November Writing Challenge

National Novel Writing Month is an annual challenge designed to motivate fiction writers to get a book written. The challenge begins on November 1 and ends on November 30. The rules are simple: the book must be written during that time – not before and not after. In thirty days, each participant is challenged to come up with a 50,000 word rough draft of a fictional novel from scratch.

Awards are given to all those who complete the challenge, and some NaNoWriMo novels have actually been published later on. The biggest benefit of the challenge is getting the motivation to just write. The challenge is not about writing a perfect novel or even to upload perfect copy at the end. The point is to write.

There is no fee to participate, though donations to the cause are always appreciated. To find out more, check out the home page for NaNoWriMo, the What is NaNoWriMo page, the How it Works page, and the FAQs page. Please note that in the official word count process, your work is not retained in any way. You just have to temporarily input it in order to register your word count with the site. Instructions for how to ‘scramble’ your temporary input will be forthcoming (from the site – to those who register to participate).

I participated last year, but did not get much done as I found about it after it had begun. This year I have been waiting for the start and will be scheduling in time for the challenge each day. I have a lot of fictional novel ideas floating around in my head, and its high time I put some of them to paper.

For those involved with Michy’s Accentuate Services (free writer site with job leads, tips, and more), Accentuate has begun a fund-raising drive for NaNoWriMo. If you would like to donate via Accentuate’s drive, or if you would like to help spread the word, please check out the information page at Accentuate.

By the way, if 50,000 words sounds overwhelming think of it in these terms:

A typical web writing assignment is 500 words. 100 such articles (a little over 3 a day) equals 50,000 words. When writing your own story with your own words and knowledge, 1,500 – 2,000 words a day flies by.

Earlier this year I was hired to write one chapter of a book. The word count the publisher gave me for one chapter: 10,000 words. 50,000 words is approximately 175 pages or 5 chapters. That is not very long. If you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself that you are not writing War and Peace or one of the Harry Potter books. *grin*

If you use Microsoft Word to write, be sure to turn on the ‘Spell check’ and ‘Grammar Check’ features in order to quickly proofread your work.

To check your own word count more easily in Microsoft Word, check out my How-to for adding a word count button on your MS Word toolbar.

Life happens. For some, setting aside the same amount of time every day, at the same time of day is the way to be most committed and effective for completing the challenge. For others, the most effective and least discouraging way is to just write as much as they can whenever they can. Do what works for you. It is not a competition against anyone but yourself. Undertaking this challenge – whatever the results – will be a rewarding experience in many ways for anyone who dreams of writing a fictional book.

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