What is NaNo? NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month. Clear as mud, right?
“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” (https://nanowrimo.org). In a nutshell, it is a challenge to harness your inner John Steinbeck and create a 50,000-word masterpiece from November 1st to November 30th. Yes, that’s thirty days, one month, 720 hours of pounding the keyboard.
Okay, realistically, you are probably not going to create a masterpiece, but as every writer knows, less-than-stellar first drafts are as common as feathers on a duck and nothing to be ashamed of. Once the words are down on paper, a little editing will polish them to a gleam—but you can’t polish what you haven’t written. NaNoWriMo gives you the push and support you need to get it done.
How do you NaNo? Easy. Sign up at https://nanowrimo.org. Here you will find a plethora of resources to help you get started, including the incredible NaNoPrep 101 course that will guide you through plot development, character creation, world building and so much more. There is also a Young Writers program educators can use to motivate their students and help them become confident writers. Whether you write poetry, memoirs, fiction, or are crafting a self-help book, NaNo is there for you.
Can’t come up with a plot? Go to the Borrow a Plot Forum. Need a villain? Borrow one. Need a name for your main character but can’t come up with anything more exciting than John Smith? There’s a forum for that!
Virtual and in-person write-ins offer you a chance to work on your Great Canadian Novel (or your grandmother’s autobiography) in the company of other struggling writers. You are not doing this alone! People of all ages from all over the world are sitting down at their computers or with their notebooks doing what you are—creating!
Pep talks from famous writers will spur you when you lag, and if you join a region, your ML (that’s Municipal Liaison in NaNo talk) will be there to poke, prod, and guide you to the finish line. Even if you don’t make 50,000 words, you have NOT failed. You have brought 4,000, or 10,000, or 20,000 words into the light of day that weren’t there before.
NaNo’s purpose is to get you to turn off the inner editor (you know, the one that has you endlessly re-writing that first chapter in a quest for perfection) and just get the words down. The “Now What?” months of January or February are for polishing and editing, and the NaNo community is there to help you with that as well. Camp NaNo, offered in the spring and fall, offers additional opportunities to stay motivated and connect with fellow writers.
So, won’t you join your fellow creatives on this crazy adventure? Use the NaNo Prep 101 course to get your imagination flowing, then stock up on coffee, chocolate, and frozen pizzas (because you won’t have time to cook!) to get you through November. After that, your task is simple:
Ready! Set! Write!