I just signed up for National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. In case you are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, which I will shorten to NaNo from here on out in order to save my Shift case from undo abuse, let me explain.
NaNo is one month (November 2011, this year) during which writers write an entire novel in one month. More specifically, a writer commits to writing a complete 50,000 word (minimum) novel from scratch during the period that begins at midnight on November 1st and ends at midnight on November 30th. There is no prize, there is no entry fee and there is no "winner". On the other hand, those writers who made the commitment to NaNo and follow through are rewarded with a completed, if completely unedited novel, at the end of the month. If you need more than that, this is not the writing event for you.
The idea is that by joining other writers in the same head-long rush toward rapidly completing a novel, a writer might find camaraderie and motivation by knowing that there are others doing the same thing in the same way at the same time.
Is NaNoWriMo Worth It?
I don’t have the slightest idea if National Novel Writing Month works or if it is a good way to write a novel.
I have never participated in NaNoWriMo before, partially out of choice, and partially because I always seem to find out about it on the 26th of the month. This year, however, a friend and fellow writer, Marie Sexton, mentioned it on Twitter. I baited her, and she responded quickly and calmly, which both ruined my game and made me wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew. Unlike my friend, I am not a published novel writer. I write non-fiction, because I can charge money to write non-fiction as a freelance writer.
Theoretically, you can make money writing novels, but the process is much different. Most of my clients are billed monthly, most pay the month or two after that, and I pay my mortgage and grocery bills with the checks and PayPal transfers that arrive each month.
A novel writer, writes a novel, shops it about (or, if previously published, sends it to their publisher), waits for an answer, receives an advance (maybe) and then goes to work on their next novel while waiting for the current one to be published. How much the next novel will pay is largely influenced by how well the as yet unpublished novel sells. Assuming the novel writer makes enough money to live on, it involves budgeting a single paycheck over several months. In other words, it takes much more time and is much more uncertain.
That being said, I started, like many writers, writing because I loved fiction and wanted to write my own novel. I have started several novels, filled numerous notebooks with ideas for even more novels, and have even more ideas for novels that haven’t seen even the first word put to paper. In other words, if I actually care about writing a novel before "someday," I need to get started, and this seemed like a good idea.
As a double bonus, I can blog how I am doing on my novel which means I have good topics for this writing blog without having to do any research!