NaNoWriMo: Can You Write A Novel In A Month?
I have always tried to surround myself by people whose actions push me to improve. Years ago, one of my best college friends got her MBA while working full time and training for a marathon. Another friend, after committing full time to photography, was named best “Family Photographer” in the city in which she lives. Most recently, a friend’s personal business became so successful that has been able to embrace philanthropy. Earlier this year I was introduced to a stay at home mom who decided to take up a challenge given to her by her book club. She mentioned a word I had never heard of: NaNoWriMo. I knew this was someone and something I needed to get to know better.
She wrote a novel in thirty days!
My Friend's NaNoWriMo Novel: The Magnificent Mamas of Manatee Court
Lulu.com: The Magnificent Mamas Of Manatee Court
- The Magnificent Mamas Of Manatee Court - Lulu.com
Kristin will never look at her husband or children the same again, but the story she chose to tell is not about her family. It's about her neighbors, the other Magnificent Mamas of Manatee Court.
Committing To Writing A Novel?
My new friend’s book club was reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In the book the main character participated in NaNoWriMo and at the end printed out a souvenir copy of her story in book form. At the book club meeting my friend mentioned to the other members that she was intrigued by this. Being a math major, she has already done the calculations. She only had to write around 1700 words per day for thirty days in a row and then she would have a 50,000 word novel. Her book club dared her take the challenge. Although had never written outside of school assignments, she dared them back stating that she might just write about them and their crazy antics. Her novel, Magnificent Mamas of Manatee Court, was born.
A bigger question emerged for me. What is NaNoWriMo?
What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month. While you can take the challenge any time of the year, the site officially supports the annual challenge in the month of November. It states that November 1st through the 30th are thirty days of literary abandon. By choosing to participate in the November challenge as my friend did, you can:
- Track your progress
- Participate in the word count scoreboard
- Meet others taking the same journey
- Give and receive pep talks
- Receive web badges noting your participation and completion
In conjunction with the official website, join your local NaNoWriMo club to:
- Receive a local mentor
- Participate in kick off parties
- Attend write-in sessions
- Receive prizes for participating and achieving goals
- Attend the “Thank Goodness It’s Over Party!”
NaNoWriMo is run by a tiny but mighty nonprofit called the Office of Letters and Light, OLL. OLL's other programs include:
- Young Writers Program
- Camp NaNoWriMo
What Is Camp NaNoWriMo?
Imagine wanting to take the NaNoWriMo challenge, but November is not an ideal month. Check out Camp NaNoWriMo. According to the site, “Camp NaNoWriMo provides the online support, tracking tools, and hard deadlines to help you write the rough draft of your novel in a month… other than November!” The camp started in 2011 and session will occur in June and August.
Maybe your novel will be born this summer!
What Is The End Result Of the NaNoWriMo?
After reading more about the NaNoWriMo challenge, the program encourages a hard core month of writing. What is the end result? For some, like my friend, it is a novel ready for print. For others it is an excellent start to a novel. Many writers have generated 50,000 words ready to be molded into a finished product. My friend said that she was shocked to find out the Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen started as a NaNoWriMo novel.
I have a better understanding of NaNoWriMo. I will admit that it still has me very intrigued.
For me, there is still a question of logistics. How do you find the time to write a novel? Once you have one written, how do you get it printed?
Finding The Time To Write A Novel
I was still full of questions. I wanted to know how a stay-at-home Mom, with children the same age as mine, seven, five, and two, had the time to write a novel. As a stay at home, time is more flexible. We have the opportunity to take advantage of ‘free time’ during naps or if the kids are at school. She laughed while explaining the biggest benefit of writing as a stay at home mom. She could continue writing, “if I was on roll in the evening because it didn’t matter how disheveled I looked in the morning.”
However, the biggest reason she was able to complete a novel in thirty days is that she committed to a challenge. Finding time is one thing. Being motivated and committed to such a task is quite another. After taking the challenge, she said she had four pieces of advice for those interested in NaNoWriMo.
1. This challenge is all about creating the clay that you will work with later. Forget about quality and embrace generating ideas.
2. Because of the time limit of thirty days, create an outline in advance, even high level. Break up the outline into thirty segments so that each day you know what you need to accomplish.
3. Embrace the NaNoWriMo mentors and forums. Taking the journey with others is less lonely.
4. Think about an illustrator. My friend picked a friend who was computer savvy. She asked him if he would draw a little doodle for each of the chapters and maybe design a cover for the end product. She said that this was also beneficial because he had helpful feedback and she was able to bounce ideas off of him.
Toasting A NaNoWriMo Success!
Guides To Self Publishing
How Did You Publish Your Book?
Not everyone will end the NaNoWriMo challenge with a book suitable for a national publishing company. Many still want the trophy for their month (or more) of hard work. Self-publishing can be an inexpensive option. Gretchen Rubin had chosen lulu.com to publish her book in the novel The Happiness Project. My friend chose to do the same.
Lulu.com is a free self-publishing option. You pay for the cost of the book. She chose the less expensive paper and size options so it only cost around $6.50 to print her book. It cost $1 to make it available as an e-book. There are options of having your book available on the lulu website. You control the price, as long as it exceeds the cost to print. Additionally, the author gets 80% of the revenue that exceeds print cost. Books can also be made available on Amazon and at other online retailers. My friend said that forty-nine copies of her book and six e-books are floating around the universe with her NaNoWriMo ideas inside. How cool!
Is It My Year For The NaNoWriMo Challenge?
Could I Take The NaNoWriMo Challenge?
Hearing my friend’s story has my mind wondering, “Could I complete the "November Month of Writing"?”
Could I be the next NaNoWriMo success?
What if I let my mind start generating some ideas?
We have five children including two sets of twins. What if I write about their crazy stories? What if they became spy kids?
Could I do some planning in advance so that I could be engrossed in this project when the next "November Writing Month" began?
What if I starting working on my thirty day outline?
I am committing to jotting down new ideas as they come to me. I enjoy the discipline and achievement of a challenge.
Will this be the year my novel is born?
© 2012 Karen Lackey