Update of November 2, 2017 – The NaNoWriMo 2017 has just been launched, so this is an opportunity to bring out this testimony of a nanoteuse! So, are you launching this year?
Originally posted on November 3, 2011
Jack Parker did an article recently. I am currently taking part in my third competition, so it's up to me to talk to you a bit about NaNoWriMo, an extraordinary challenge and an odyssey for writing enthusiasts who have a strong taste for coming back.
But let's start from the beginning.
NaNoWriMo, what is this barbaric thing?
The NaNoWriMo (contraction of National Novel Writing Month, because it is true that it is a bit long to write), it is an event which returns every year on November 1st: at the first stroke of midnight, all around the globe, tens of thousands of participants abandon their Halloween costume and endorse their range of novelist.
Which in NaNo's mind is pretty much like a ninja outfit with a big coffee mug. Because it's about writing, in a month, 50,000 words of a novel. To give you an idea, it's the equivalent of about 175 pages in pocket format.
It is feasible, but it requires a lot, a lot of motivation.
The one who owes the NaNo is Chris Baty, from San Francisco and author of No Plot? No problem! ("No Scenario? No problem!"), Book full of tips to bounce a breathless plot. Baty had the idea of the challenge in 1999, inspired by the idea that everyone has a book that deserves to be written, but that too many people do not take the time to act.
See also: I tested for you … the impostor syndrome
In the beginning, the circle of wrimos (nanoteurs in VF) was very small, but with the explosion of the Internet, the number of participants quickly skyrocketed.
Gradually, the organization was set up to reach global proportions (establishment of municipal links in all the "regions" to put the participants in touch, programs in the classrooms, mini-NaNo for teens …), and all this through the Office of Letters and Lights, an organization founded by Baty himself.
The gigantic and time-consuming website forum (you are being warned), demonstrates on its own the importance of the community that has formed and finds itself year after year.
Unfortunately, if the site has a French translation, the forum remains in English, except for the part devoted to France.
NaNoWriMo FAQ for beginners
Discovering NaNoWriMo is like landing on an island populated by strange creatures such as word count, word wars, write-ins and so on.
It's nice all that, but how do you do if you do not feel like writing a novel in English?
Despite its misleading name, NaNo is beautiful and international. All languages are accepted, and each has a small corner of forum dedicated to it.
But concretely, how do you participate?
We create an account on the site, with presentation of the author and the novel that you intend to write -genre and synopsis, for example- and then … we write.
Moreover, we do not write on the site itself, but on the software of his choice, and we then postpone the number of words (the famous word count) on his profile. A nice progress bar fills up as you go and it's the most rewarding thing in the world.
We have to write fiction?
The cool thing about NaNo is that you do not have to. Most write fiction, but we call NaNo-rebels (the class huh?) Those who opt for something else: fanfiction, essays …
Some even use NaNo to boost the writing of their memory.
What do we win if we reach 50,000 words?
The satisfaction of writing a novel, of course! Or part of a novel, for the most ambitious.
And of course, the pleasure of giving it a go for something, or even having met new people if you went to a write-in. It's a very rewarding human experience.
A write-in is when nanoteamers gather in the same place (usually a café) to write together.
They challenge themselves who will write the most words in a given time, talk about their stories, and so on. There are also three other important gatherings: the Meet & Greet, which takes place at the end of October and where the future participants meet, the Kick-Off Party on October 31 at night for those who want to start writing at midnight, and the TGIO (for Thank God It's Over!) party early December to celebrate the return to a normal social life.
Because we must not fool ourselves, between NaNo and friends, we must choose. But otherwise we are not a sect, we promise!
With such a deadline, we are really writing something good?
"At NaNo what matters is quantity, not quality". Do not think, write! You will have plenty of time to track inconsistencies, facepalmer in front of your typos and ask why your villain lacks so much charisma during the eleven months that separates you from the next NaNo!
Your novel will not come out directly as a Goncourt prize, nor as a big nauseating pie. FYI, know that many novels from NaNoWriMo have been published internationally, and two in France! And I hope that one day mine will be too.
Also read: 5 unknown profits of writing, this healthy activity
Journal of a nanoteuse
I discovered the NaNoWriMo in September 2009, by clicking link in link. I was eighteen. And as I had just finished my first story, a story of superheroes I was too proud of (remember, it was the year Watchmen), I decided to give it a try.
I spent my whole month of October imagining my plot and my characters (normal people this time) in my corner, and hanging out on the forums with the mouse flinching with impatience. And I realized how much it was a community experience. People help each other, talk to each other, meet, all federated around the same goal: to reach these 50K.
I got closer to the French community and I made myself "writing buddies", that is to say, writing buddies who are there to bait you if you hang out or comfort you if you doubt your idea to include pirates in your story.
I even kept in touch with some of them, post-NaNo, we got our manuscripts read. I see them with pleasure every November.
I won my first NaNo hands down, reaching 50,000 words on the 11th day and putting the final point of my work on the 21st. In total, in one month, I wrote more than 70,000 words. I was a student, but my schedules gave me a lot of free time, I loved my story and my characters, everything played in my favor.
Even today, writing this novel is one of my greatest prides and I read it regularly. On the other hand it needs a good facelift to be really presentable, but I have not yet had the courage to tackle it!
The second NaNo, I lost it. Too much work in parallel, a story that stagnated, I did not hold up and I gave up halfway. Like what, even at 20,000 words, the challenge is still there. But he still sleeps in a corner of my computer, just in case!
This year, I changed my method: no preparation except for a small synopsis and names of characters thrown on a sheet. I go there blindly and in fact I like having no idea what I will write the next day.
So, want to try the adventure?
See also: Samantha Bailly teaches you how to overcome the white page syndrome!