Setting The Record Straight: 5 Misconceptions About NaNoWriMo

by | Oct 30, 2014 | Craft: Novel Writing, Other Helpful Information, The Writing Life | 9 comments

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Deadline: Thursday, September 16th

NaNoWriMo

November brings us cooler weather, turkey dinners, and—most importantly—National Novel Writing Month! Since 1999, NaNoWriMo has been challenging writers to write “a book in a month.” This annual literary event has grown from 21 participants in its first year to over 310,000 writers in 2013. But not everything writers believe about NaNoWriMo is true. We’re here to set the record straight about some of the misconceptions surrounding National Novel Writing Month.

5 Misleading Myths About National Novel Writing Month

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to complete an entire book in a month. While some writers might expect to have a finished book in thirty days, most writers understand that their NaNoWriMo efforts will result in the finished raw material of a book—not a polished, publisher-ready book. NaNo is just the beginning; after the initial thirty-day writing frenzy, participants often spend months in very deep revisions. Learn more about How To Prepare Your NaNoWriMo Book For Publication.

All NaNoWriMo books are a waste of time and paper. Some people assume the only way to write a book in a month is to write a crappy book. While there certainly are NaNo books that reek of “eau de first draft,” there are also those that are surprisingly brilliant. Many writers find that working under intense pressure brings out the best in them.
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NaNoWriMo is for amateurs, not “serious” writers. Yes, the majority of NaNo participants are aspiring authors. But there are many writers with publishing credits and advanced degrees among the ranks! And NaNo writers have been published by major publishing houses, including Simon & Schuster, Ballantine, Dutton, HarperCollins, Berkley, and more. Find a list of published NaNo writers here.

Agents do (or don’t) want to know that you wrote your book during National Novel Writing Month. Whichever way you read that sentence—it’s just not true. Most agents don’t care if you started your book during NaNoWriMo or if you wrote it during the other eleven months of the year; what matters is the strength of your writing.

NaNoWriMo participants must become hermits and spend hours cut off from the world. Not necessarily true! Many writers join NaNo because they want to connect with other writers. The National Novel Writing Month coordinators have created a wonderful website with forums where writers can connect, commiserate, share advice, and support one another. While you can choose to work alone, there’s certainly no need to! Most writers report that participation in NaNo is fun.

To learn more about succeeding as a NaNo writer, check out our article: NaNoWriMo: 7 Steps To Set Yourself Up For Success.

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? If so, would you do it again?

 

9 Comments

  1. Tina Altum

    I participated in 2012 and completed it (woo hoo), and am a current participant. I love doing it. I love to write, but often other obligations get in the way. NaNoWriMo helps (forces) me to dedicate time to writing and it is oddly freeing. I highly recommend it!

    Reply
  2. Hendrik

    Good NaNo mythbuster article!

    This is my 3rd time I participate, the 2 last times I failed to reach the target, but I wrote a lot, and has resulted in my 1st published novel.
    This NaNo I am trying again to get my 50K, but if I don’t succeed: I know this will count towards finishing my next novel.

    Hendrik

    Reply
  3. Judy Kimball

    This year marks the third time I’ve participated in NaNo. Both previous years I completed my 50,000 words and received my certificate. As of Nov. 3, I’m 550 words ahead of my word count this go around. For me, NaNo is the best way I’ve found to draft a novel. Outlining is not my forte and if I go the “punster” route, I hit a wall at about the 6th chapter. With NaNo, it’s all about word count, not quality, and that ever present deadline! Quality comes in the rewrite. From a 50,000 word draft, I’ve completed an 85,000 word novel which is close to being released into the big, bad world. I’m a huge NaNo fan, don’t participate in write-ins, but prefer to go it alone, and come Nov. 30, feel a heady sense of accomplishment. Thanks Chris Baty for founding this fun endeavor for writers at every level.

    Reply
  4. Sam Cyborski

    Thank you for these. A couple I actually believed myself. As for the question, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo since 2012 and am doing so again this year. It’s a lot of fun and I plan on doing it for years to come.

    Reply
  5. Sandie

    I have participated in NaNoWriMo several times since 2005 and have finished a work at least 3 times. It is a hard row sometimes but it is fun to see those words come onto the page. Try it, you might like it!

    Reply
  6. Evelyn

    I have participated in NaNoWriMo since 2002 and have been a winner each year. I am also doing this year, too. Besides November, I have done 3 summer camps – 1 April and 2 July. I have a number of novels for myself. There are only several I would even begin to consider for publication.
    Ev

    Reply
  7. Michaela

    I have participated in—and won—NaNoWriMo 8 times. My first book has gone through the wringer for edits and is actually in the process of being queried around. The one I wrote this year is one that I plan to edit and get ready for sending out as quickly as possible—I’ve already had an agent express interest based on my pre-emptive query.

    I love NaNo… it gives me a time when I can really focus on my writing as it tends to take a back seat to the rest of my life for the rest of the year. My family understands that November is my time to be serious, to go out to write-ins, spend time writing at home, etc. My 12 yo has participated in the Young Writer’s Program (NaNo for kids) the last three years, so we get to do this together. My 9yo started expressing interest this year, too.

    If I never get published I may be a little sad, but it won’t take away the joy that I get from creating something… it won’t take away the accomplishment of setting goals and attaining them… and it won’t take away all of the wonderful friends that I’ve made along the way.

    I regret nothing. NaNoWriMo forever!

    Reply
  8. Dave

    I had a great time enjoying my first NaNo this past year… Managed to complete a draft that I’m now revising for self-publishing. Great clarification of what it is and what it isn’t, for those willing to give it a shot.

    Reply
  9. Clare B

    I have participated in NaNoWriMo 3 times and there will be a fourth, later this year. I have also participated in Camp NaNoWriMo 7 times, it will be 8 at the end of next month! I have had 9 successes and 1 abysmal failure (June 2012)

    Reply

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