The Benefits of Nanowrimo

Trying to decide whether or not to do Nanowrimo? Do it.
What? You need a bit more convincing? Fair enough—let’s get down to it. Why would anyone want to crank out 50,000 words in a month.

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Thirty one days of frenzy, plotting, building characters, worlds. There are a lot of myths floating around about Nanowrimo and here we’ll discuss it all.

1.) You Write a Novel

It’s the American dream to pen a novel that will keep us sitting pretty by maxing out on the bestseller list. That’s what’s great about Nanowrimo. You get to start on that memoir/ fantasy about dragons you’ve always wanted to write. Just keep in mind, 50,000 words is a lot, but is not considered a novel. Devastating, I know. But don’t despair yet. Once you get down those first 50,000 words, you’ll be well on your way to finishing your first draft.

How much more should you write after that? Well, that depends on what genre you’re writing in.
For a Romance novel, 85,000
For a YA, 70,000
For SF and Fantasy, the word count spans from 90,000 to 120,000, but if you keep it lower, it will be easier for the agent to say yes. Unless you’re Ray Bradbury or Stephen Gaimon, turning in a 200,000 word novel to agents will earn you a quick and polite, “No thanks.”
Thrillers, 80,000 to 100,000
Cozy mystery, 60,000 to 85,000
Very few publishers want to invest in a book that’s only 50,000 words, but that is what seems manageable in a single month. If anything, Nanowrimo will get you into gear with your writing habits. I tend to write either very early in the mornings or at night. Otherwise, I’ll work on essays and blog posts. But at 6 in the morn or at midnight, you can find me pounding out fiction. Past maybe 11, my family settles into slumber and I can get an hour or two to work in peace.
This month will help you figure out how to fit writing into your schedule. Now, mind, I don’t generally generate 2,000 words a day as you will need to do to complete the challenge, but it does form a habit for writing every day.

2.) You meet other writers

One of the best things about becoming involved in such a program is that you meet other budding writers and some professional writers. If you’re interested in writing, then to meet new people is essential. These are the people that will encourage you to keep going even when you think what you’re writing is crap.
As a poet, knowing other poets—both amateur and professional—has helped me grow in my craft. Other people push you to write better, because suddenly you’re not just writing for yourself. Your writer friends become the first audience you need to impress. Sure, if you’re only doing this for fun, write for fun. But if you’re interested in publication, relationships with other writers will vastly increase your skill.

3.) Getting Published
Don’t assume that if you crank out those 50,000 words, you’ll get published. Sure, Sara Gruen did it, but do you think she turned in a first draft. Definitely not. She worked and reworked that novel before ever sending her first query. Once you finish, go ahead and celebrate, but the party ain’t over yet.
Generally, when you finish the first draft, you’ll look away from your novel. Then go back. Write it again. That’s right. You shall probably end up writing it again. That’s what December, January, and February are for, though, right? November is the month that will jolt your writer self with ideas and then you’ll pump out those first 50,000 words.
After that? Edit, edit, edit.
But don’t worry about this quite yet. When you finish that first draft, then worry about editing. For now, worry about finger cramps and how strong your coffee is.

Nanowrimo is an adventure that takes a lot of hours, a lot of time. But that’s what it takes. Words, time, and blood. Well, mostly words, but some blood too if you happen to get a paper cut. Good luck!


One thought on “The Benefits of Nanowrimo

  1. You make a good and inspirational pitch for joining in the frenzy. But I don’t work well under pressure, plus, there’s something about the acronym-ishness of the project that leaves me uninspired. I know that sounds like superficial justifications for not launching into this endeavor, but there’s a reason–I’m really into superficial justifications! Just kidding…

    I think it’s a great idea for people who need a jump start and structure. I don’t need either. I can’t seem to stop writing or think about writing my life story. I’m already beginning to pre-worry about how to get my book published… 😐

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