If you’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) before, you’ve fallen victim to the lie that NaNoWriMo has had going for a decade and a half now. Your potential novel has fallen victim to it.
Since the beginning, NaNoWriMo has prided itself as a novel-writing month. In just 30 days, you can write a 50,000-word novel.
Hundreds of thousands of writers all around the world participate every year. And the writers who cross the NaNo finish line are duped into thinking that they just wrote the draft of a novel.
This lie has been going on for far too long. It must stop.
The NaNoWriMo Lie
The lie that’s being sold to writers all over the world, is that they are, in fact, writing a novel during NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, that’s not the case at all.
What most writers are writing during NaNoWriMo is a story.
It could be part of a story; it could be a few stories that are mushed together, in need of separation. It could simply be an exploration of a novel idea seed (or concept).
But it’s certainly not a novel.
No, novels have structure. They have purpose, a mission. They have a beginning, middle and end that all ties together in a nice little package.
NaNoWriMo churns out 50,000-words worth of notes on a story that you may want to write as a novel someday. But that day is not NaNoWriMo.
Ask a writer who has participated in NaNo what happened to the “novel” she wrote. Nine times out of 10 it’s in a drawer somewhere collecting dust. (Maybe they should change the name to NaStoWriMo–National Story Writing Month.)
That’s because there’s a lot more to writing a novel than the writing part.
How To Truly “Win” NaNoWriMo
The only way a writer can attempt NaNoWriMo and actually come out at the end of the 30 days with the draft of a novel, is if she does some serious story planning ahead of time. And that’s totally allowed, based on NaNo rules.
You’re allowed to do all the planning, character creating and note-taking that you want to before NaNo starts. The only thing you’re not allowed to do is do the actual writing.
You have to wait ’til November 1 to start on that.
If you want this to be your best NaNoWriMo ever–an epic year where you actually come out of NaNo with the draft of a novel–you must commit yourself to finding your story (and planning it!) now. So when November 1 rolls around, you know exactly what your story is about, who the hero is, what the journey entails and how everyone is getting from page one to “the end.”
Here are some story planning resources to get you started:
- Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (of StoryFix.com)
- From Idea to Fully Viable Story Plan
- 5 Resources to Help You Plan Your Novel
Don’t let the opportunity to do some major NaNo prep pass you by. Take the next few weeks of October to really dig in and plan out the story you’re going to write in November. That way you can walk away with the draft of an actual novel. Since you’re putting in all that time and effort.
Regardless of What You Write, NaNoWriMo Still Rocks
While NaNoWriMo isn’t quite what its name suggests, it’s still an awesome annual event, for three reasons:
- It gets you started–the hardest part of writing is getting started. NaNo is brilliant for getting you started on your writing.
- It creates community around writing–writing is often a lonely calling, so it’s nice that NaNo month (aka: November) brings writers together, both online and in your local community.
- It gets writers off their asses (or on their asses, rather) and writing–NaNo is a great motivator for finding time to write every day, and churning out a really cool story idea that you can turn into a novel.
Share With Us
How do you feel about NaNo? If you’ve competed before, what did you do with the 50,000 words you wrote?