Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Nanowrimo - guest post by Brittany Lyons

It's that time of year again when the mad amongst us are scribbling furiously in an attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Blogger Brittany Lyons offered me a guest post about the Nano challenge, how it began and what you can get out of it. She also mentions a challenge set by to write a 600-word story in a month - come on, all of you can manage that!

Or write a 500-word story, and enter it in Tesco's current competition to win a Kindle. Write a lot this month or write a little - it's up to you but write something and make it count!

OK, here's Brittany's post and I hope it inspires you all!

Nanowrimo - a Challenge of Epic Proportions

If you love to write bu have trouble forcing yourself to sit down and just do it, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, may be for you. NaNoWriMo is a fun contest that takes place every November, in which participants attempt to write 50,000 words in one month. Anyone who makes it to the goal of 50,000 words before November 30 “wins” the contest, and is award with a badge for their blog, Facebook profile, or wherever else they want to put it. But it's not really about winning—it's about writing.

2011 marks the 13th annual NanoWriMo contest. Last year saw over 200,000 participants—an overwhelming number compared to the first NanoWriMo contest in 1999. The contest began as a private challenge between founder Chris Baty, a writer living in San Francisco Bay, and 20 of his friends. Baty's friends didn't have writing PhDs, but they all enjoyed reading and wondered whether they could complete a novel in a month. Since “The Great Gatsby” was a group favorite, the group decided that any work the same size as this classic—50,000 words—would count as a novel. Six of the original 21 participants completed their novels by the end of the month.

The contest has grown over the last 13 years from a personal challenge to a social event. NanoWriMo has an official website where participants can keep track of how many words they've written and how close they are to their goal. The website also offers forums where writers can discuss their work and difficulties they have with the writing process, and socialize with other writers. In addition to online forums, writers can learn about and attend "write-in" events at local libraries and independent bookstores, where they can meet other writers in person.

The event's primary purpose is to jump start your novel writing, and so it focuses on quantity, not quality. Anybody can succeed at NaNoWriMo if they write 1,667 words a day, all month long. Some professional writers object to this, saying that even though a writer can produce a finished book in 30 days, it's unlikely that the book is ready for publication. However, this objection misses the point of the competition. NaNoWriMo isn't about creating a finished book; it's about getting
that all-important first draft out of the way. Once NaNoWriMo is over, writers can work on revising their novels and getting them ready for publication, if they so desire. Some NaNoWriMo-inspired novels have been published and have even been successful.

Because NaNoWriMo focuses on word count rather than the story itself, it has also attracted bloggers, poets and short story writers looking for help with establishing a regular writing routine. Those 1,667 words a day don't have to be directed toward a novel, as evidenced by the self-publishing company's NaNoWriMo short story contest. The contest encourages participants to write, polish, and self-publish a 600-word story. At the end of the month, the selected winners receive great prizes like the Barnes and Noble NOOK and up to $500 in cash. So even if you aren't a novelist and never intend to become one, NaNoWriMo is a great way to both
get involved with the writing community and motivate yourself.

It's very easy to sign up for NaNoWriMo. Simply go to their website, choose a username, and provide your email address. You can report your progress on a daily basis, and even share excerpts from your work in progress if you wish. Between November 25 and November 30, participants upload their novels to validate word counts, and anyone with 50,000 words get the winning graphic—and the satisfaction of having reached a huge goal.

Brittany Lyons aspires to be a psychology professor, but decided to take some time off from grad school to help people learn to navigate the academic lifestyle. She currently lives in Spokane, Washington, where she spends her time reading science fiction and walking her dog. She blogs at

And if you think it's too late this year, there's always next year. Thanks, Brittany!


Cathy Powell said...

Great post. I wasn't going to take part, but then I changed my mind. This is my third year, I haven't yet got to 50,000 words, but all I want to do is just get some words written.

Patsy said...

What do you mean 'the mad among us'? Nobody needs to be mad to start out on NaNo - they'll naturally start feeling that way by around day 12.

Debs Carr said...

Great post, thanks.

I've taken part for the past two years, but haven't done so this year and am missing it. Good luck with NaNo.

Nan Sheppard said...

Every year I think, "Maybe next year!" Best of luck and high five to everyone who is taking part this year!