When I was going through my posts the other day, I came across all of my old NaNoWriMo posts. With NaNoWriMo coming up again, and considering the major overhaul in my blog after a long hiatus (and most likely the loss of all my old readership), I decided I had better explain NaNoWriMo again.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and is frequently shortened to NaNo or nano (and its participants are often called wrimos). Despite the name, this is actually an international event now, which takes place every November. It's a self-challenge (meaning it's not a competition against others) to write a novel, or 50,000 words of a novel, in the month of November.
If you do NaNoWriMo fairly strictly, you're not to even start the novel until November, although you can start outlining and worldbuilding before then. You can start writing on the stroke of midnight on November 1st in your time zone, and need to have finished by 11:59pm on November 30th in order to "win."
NaNo has been going on for a long time, I think around 20 years now. I started participating in NaNo way back in 2006, when I had just a year of freelancing full-time under my belt. I "won" that first year, had a number of failed years after that, and then "won" again with the completion of my 1920s vampire novel, Ruby Ransome, in 2011. I was a "rebel" that year, since I started with a novel already in progress, although I only counted words written in November toward my NaNoWriMo word count.
I've actually rebelled a lot of years. NaNoWriMo is an incredible motivational tool, so I've used it to kick start all kinds of writing projects, not all of them novels. I love bending rules, so I've used NaNo to increase my blogging, to work on nonfiction projects, and to write more for myself just in general. As a freelance writer, I find that the hardest thing is to work on my own projects, especially when I have paying client work waiting in the wings. As a result, I have lots of unfinished projects forever parked on the back burner, and NaNoWriMo helps me make progress on those. I don't always "win," but I figure as long as I get writing done that I wouldn't have otherwise, it's a win in my book.
That's what NaNoWriMo is and what I've written with it over the years. In my next post, I'll talk more about my volunteer work with NaNoWriMo.