NaNoWriMo: Should You Participate? My Answer Plus NaNoWriMo Comics, NaNoMusicals and Songs About NaNoWriMo
For those of you who don't know, every year there are thousands of people who participate in National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo. The Goal: to write 50,000 words during the month of November. NaNoWriMo has grown over the years, and now includes a special section just for young writers.
I participated for a number of years and have had a lot of fun with it. Some experienced writers sneered about the event in the beginning, saying that it was only for amateurs, that a book written in 30 days is going to be garbage, etc. Now more professional writers are participating, some to jumpstart current or new projects. I checked the official NaNoWriMo site just now, and over 190,000 people have registered for this year's NaNo-extravaganza so far.
I completed one novel at an early NaNoWriMo which I ended up revising heavily before sending out through my agent. Although I had quite a few editors say they liked my writing, it never found a publisher and I ended up pulling it out of circulation.
This year I'm not participating because timing isn't right. NaNoWriMo's great for hammering out a first draft of a novel, but right now I'm immersed in writing and illustrating picture books. I do plan to participate again someday, though.
If you have problems motivating yourself to write and have no interest in socializing with other writers, then I'd advise against participating in NaNoWriMo. If you expect NaNoWriMo to be some kind of shortcut for you and have misguided plans to send out your novel right after NaNoWriMo without taking the time to revise, DON'T do NaNoWriMo. Let your mss cool off for a while, then do NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) in March.
If you're the type to get depressed and disillusioned if you don't make the 50,000 wordcount goal by the end of the month, then try my 250, 500 and 1000 words/day challenge instead.
However, if you're looking for a fun motivational writing event and enjoy commiserating with other writer-types online or in person, I heartily encourage you to give NaNoWriMo a try. If you'd like to participate but need to bend the rules (e.g. you've already started your novel, you're writing nonfiction or a bunch of picture book mss instead of one novel, etc.), you can still participate as a NaNoRebel.
If you plan to turn this into something you'd like to submit to agents or editors in the future, I also STRONGLY recommend doing some outlining ahead of time. Even just a one page summary to give yourself a rough idea of the story, especially the ending. This will save you much angst later, trust me.
Another piece of advice: Have some fun! On social media like Twitter, you can easily find others talking about NaNoWriMo by searching for the #NaNoWriMo hashtag. Many are blogging about NaNoWrimo. Some, like my MiGWriters critique partner Christy Farley, are vlogging about their NaNoWriMo experience.
My friend Errol Elumir has a been huuuuuuge supporter of NaNoWriMo for many years, so you should definitely follow some of the projects he's involved with, such as:
(1) NANOTOONS - Daily comics about NaNoWriMo!
(2) If you missed NaNoMusical last year, you can watch it now! All six video episodes are on the NaNoMusical website. I was an extra, and you can see me dancing with my iPad in the first episode here:
(3) If you're on Facebook, check out WrimoSongs. You can listen to NaNoWriMo-themed songs throughout the month plus have the option of purchasing some if you like them (proceeds go to NaNoWriMo).
Debs & Errol - Errol's band website, where he posts daily comics related to whatever is on his mind (nowadays, that's mostly NaNoWriMo). Debs = Deborah Isaac, not me. :-)