How To Complete Your National Novel Writing Month Project
Hayley DenningsDec 1 2022
Around the globe, National Novel Writing Month participants just wrapped up an epic month of writing. We've rounded up some advice to help you edit your NaNoWriMo project in style!
What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November. This is the month when many writers embark on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month. 30 days to write 50k words? Sounds impossible, right? Well, thousands of writers around the globe pulled it off this year.But what's next?"As if it wasn't hard enough to write 50,000 words in 30 days, now you actually have to take that jumbled up mess and turn it into a publishable novel," laughs YouTuber Heart Breathings, who has developed a whole system for editing your NaNoWriMo project.
How Do I Edit My National Novel Writing Month Manuscript?
Firstly, check out the official NaNoWriMo website to find editing resources. NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit organization that provides the necessary tools and community to help people achieve their creative goals. Writing can often be a lonely activity, but with NaNoWriMo, it doesn't have to be. A wonderful part about NaNoWriMo is its large community that continues to grow every year.Here's some advice to get you started:
"Learned writers know that editing is integral to the writing process. They only allow editing to become a secondary goal to win NaNoWriMo because they know that polishing their writing is a requirement for later. In accepting that quality should always be improved, your imperfect writing can never cause fear. Instead, it feels natural."
Start your own National Novel Editing Month
Most experts recommend taking a few weeks or months off before revisiting your NaNoWriMo manuscript. But when you do open that file, dedicate a month to editing it!Every March, NaNoWriMo participants used to gather for National Novel Editing Month. While the official project has stalled out, it can be helpful to choose a month where you will focus on editing.The Squibler has more details about choosing the best month to edit:
"NaNoEdMo follows the same theme, challenging writers to spend a total of 50 hours editing in a single month. Any additional novel planning, outlining, or researching doesn’t count towards this goal - it is for editing only. While the challenge is directly connected to NaNoWriMo, you can theoretically work on anything. Editing and rewriting your NaNoWriMo project is the most natural progression, but it doesn’t have to be."
Learn from the best
To help you in your journey, NaNoWriMo executive director Grant Faulkner led NaNoWriMo Book Club on Fable last year, reading the novel-writing handbook, "Brave the Page." You can revisit the club and see his advice for readers.It’s partly a how-to guide on the nitty-gritty of writing and partly a collection of inspiration to meet ambitious goals. It includes chapters on character, plot, setting, and more; motivating essays from popular authors; advice on how to commit to your goals; a detailed plan for writing a novel or story in a month.
What are the NaNoWriMo rules?
In order to win NaNoWriMo, you must write 50,000 words by the end of November, which comes out to a daily word count of about 1,667 words. You should only count words that were written in November, nothing before. Whether you start a new novel or rewrite an old one, what matters is that you write 50,000 words in November.
How many pages is 50,000 words?
Page count varies, depending on font, font size, and spacing. But generally, a 50,000-word manuscript is around 200 pages.
Who can participate in NaNoWriMo? Is there an age limit?
NaNoWriMo participants must be at least 13 years old.NaNoWriMo refers to its participants as 'novelists' since its creation in 1999, when only a handful of novelists participated. Now, around half a million novelists participate each year. Of those half a million, only 10-15% of participants actually win NaNoWriMo. To be clear, NaNoWriMo is not a competition. You are not competing against other novelists. Everyone works at their own pace, and whether two people finish before you (or 3000 people!) does not make your win any less significant. You are still a winner, no matter when you reach 50,000 words in November. There are no charts, finalists, or lists. Each winner receives a winner certificate and gets access to the winner's prizes.
More NaNoWriMo Advice
1. If you haven't already, sign up and make an account on the NaNoWriMo website. Add some other novelists and check out their projects while you wait for the first of November.2. Have fun. As stated earlier, NaNoWriMo is not a competition. It is a place to put work towards your novel, improve your craft, and find a community around writing.3. Find a community to write with and hold each other accountable in these final days. It's fun to do NaNoWriMo with friends (and you can even make new friends in the process). Group writing sprints and setting goals together can help keep everyone on track.
Some Advice from National Book Award Finalist, Sonora Reyes
Sonora Reyes is the author of The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School and the forthcoming contemporary young adult novel: The Luis Ortega Survival Club. They write fiction full of queer and Latinx characters in a variety of genres. Sonora is also the creator and host of the Twitter chat #QPOCChat, a monthly community-building chat for queer writers of color.When asked if they had any advice for NaNoWriMo, this is what Sonora had to say:"When it comes to NaNoWriMo, the primary way I tend to motivate myself is through body doubling. I either attend the local write-ins, or Zoom with a writer friend and write together. Something about the community of NaNoWriMo is magical in a way, because the usually solitary act of writing doesn't have to be so lonely! So many other writers are doing it at the same time, and it can be so motivating just having people to write with.I don't really use craft books, but one exercise that really helps me get words on the page when I'm not feeling it is word sprints. Just setting a timer for however long (sometimes 15 minutes, sometimes 45), and just "sprinting," or writing nonstop with no distractions until the timer goes off. I get almost ALL of my words down during sprints, because otherwise I just get way too distracted and end up scrolling social media instead of writing LOL."Best of luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo!
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