National Novel Writing Month
Julie Butcher blogs about the highs, lows, yeses and noes when it comes to participating in NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month.
Nano Yes or Nano No?
Nano Month 2014
Winter is coming and November is just around the corner. November is National Novel Writer’s month—the only season of the year where your twitter feed doesn’t spin like a slot machine, and facebook winds down to the occasional Snoopy typing on a dog house cartoon. Everyone works furiously to hit the fifty-thousand word count goal before December first. They have signed up for Nanowrimo. (Insert ominous music here.)
On September 30th, there were already 708,087 people signed up to write in November. On December first, 708,000 of them will either begin submitting to agents and editors or slap that puppy up as an ebook fully expecting to make a fortune in time for Christmas shopping.
NaNoWriMo month is a great exercise for writers. It helps them to focus, and to power through a first draft. However, writers shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking this is anything but a first draft. I dread the month after Nano as I receive so many submissions written for NaNoWriMo that have wonderful potential, but the writers sent before they were polished and ready to be seen.
Marlene Stringer, The Stringer Literary Agency
Before you join the hoard of novelists, let’s make sure you know what you will and will not get from Nanowrimo.
[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”0811854299″ cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″]What you do:
1. First, in order to participate, you sign up at nanowrimo.org
2. If you like, you can post a widget on your blog or website to show everyone your progress. This is a good way to help with accountability because all of your friends will be able to give you grief if you’re not writing.
3. Then on November first, you write with your goal being 1,667 words each day.
4. You paste your lovely words into the website where they are counted and then deleted. This is to keep track of your word count. It is absolutely not to keep a copy of your manuscript. You have to do that yourself so don’t forget to back up your work.
5. When you write 50,000 words, you win.
NaNo is wonderful for fostering a community of accountability to daily word count goals. It can help get a writer’s creative juices flowing and even unstick someone with writer’s block. But some writers mistakenly complete NaNo and then submit their shiny new manuscript to agents and publishers sans editing, revision or polish. This is a huge mistake, since you get only one chance to make that all-important first impression. So before you submit that NaNoWrimo novel, remember to polish to perfection.
Georgia McBride Media Group
Home of Month9Books, Swoon Romance, and Tantrum Books
What you get:
1. You get the satisfaction of knowing that you can produce words on a deadline.
2. You get to encourage other writers and make friends.
3. You get to be part of an amazing community.
4. Several companies have donated discounts on writing software, free ebooks, and other digital prizes for the people who write the 50,000 words.
What you do not get:
1. Every first draft needs work—lots and lots of work. You do not get to send your manuscript as is to agents and editors. First you will edit, then you will send it to beta readers, and then you will edit more. Nanowrimo is a creative exercise in discipline and not a prequel to submission. You will not send it to editors and agents.
2. You will absolutely not slap your manuscript into an ebook and sell it on the internet. If you’re smart, you’ll know that you really do not want random people to read your first draft. Also, the internet is a big place and some of those people are smart and they can find you.
3. You will research the word count needed for your genre and not be stupid. Fifty-thousand words is not a complete novel unless you write for middle grade. It is a novella in the adult reading world.
Literary agents and editors are specialists in Nanowrimo. They can smell an unedited manuscript from a thousand paces. And since I know that half of the time you do not believe what I tell you, I went to another expert.
I think NaNoWriMo is a great way to get a writer to be productive; to have goals. But please don’t think that just getting words on the page is all there is to writing a book. You created a first draft. There are many more drafts to come. Write. Revise. Repeat. Several times. And only then should you consider querying that work.
Agent, The Knight Agency
So participating in Nanowrimo is a yes. Get enthusiastic about writing a novel, have fun. Gain some traction, make new friends, and get the first draft on the page. But never-ever-ever think that what you write during the month of November should see the light of day until spring. Give yourself time to grow and to improve the lovely beginning you made.
Some people will write 150,000 words and others won’t make the 50,000 word goal. Neither one matters. The point is to start and to give it enough time to be something amazing.
Written by Julie Butcher