Big Important Looking FAQ Thing for Qt3ers Who Care (shit b0n3rz)
What is NaNoWriMo?
It stands for National Novel Writing Month and there’s not much more to it than that, except that it’s international now. You get a month (November) and write a novel. It’s technically a contest insofar as their site tracks your progress and you get a little banner (and sometimes goodies from NaNoWriMo sponsors) if you win, but really, you’re mostly doing this for personal fulfillment.
What Constitutes a Novel?
50,000 words, machine-countable (at month’s end, you can submit your manuscript to the site’s automated word-counters. Don’t worry; the remote copy is destroyed immediately after counting). Ideally, it features a beginning, middle, and end. It should be in the form of prose and not be a continuation of an existing work (i.e., don’t start early or write a play).
That said, since the only validation is automated counting, you’re honestly free to craft whatever the heck you want. Some people even hand-write or do graphic novels just because they want to join in the spirit but don’t wanna type a novel at their computer.
Why Do It?
Aside from the personal fulfillment mentioned above (NaNo founder Chris Baty often spoke about the importance of creativity and creation for their own sake rather than serving an “important” purpose that could strip them of fun and spontaneity, turning them into drudgerous tasks), there’s also the community aspect.
You see, over the years, NaNo has evolved into quite the little subculture. Obviously the forums on the site are a rollicking adventure of madness stuffed to the gills with other people just as excited about the act of writing a novel as you are. People there are eager to help with plot issues, character building, and even background research (there’s a whole subforum dedicated to finding subject matter experts to tell you exactly what riding a horse for 2 months on end would be like or how many habitable planets might exist in the galaxy or how George Washington might have reacted to an assassination attempt). Genre forums are rife with ideas, discussions, and a lot of wackiness.
However, the real meat of the experience, in my book, is in the local interaction. Most medium-to-large towns in the world have a local writer’s group that gathers for so-called “write-ins” wherein people gather at a predetermined location with laptops, notebooks, and sometimes even typewriters to work together, laughing, eating, discussing ideas, and being supportive. Pre- and post-NaNo parties and potlucks aren’t uncommon, and some really organized groups hold rallies, raffle off doorprizes, and even award end-of-month honors to regular attendees. Each little area of the world develops its own wonderful subculture :)
Any Tips for a First-Timer?
[li]Write, don’t edit. Editing is for December, January, and beyond. November is for getting your raw thoughts and ideas on the page quickly and efficiently; getting bogged down in revision during the contest just means you have to spend more time writing.
[li]Set aside a regular schedule. Write for half an hour with your morning coffee, or on your lunch break at work. If you have an active local group, attend the write-ins and do it there.
[li]Use helpful tools to keep yourself on track. The Nano Technology subforum will slowly fill up with advanced spreadsheets and wordtrackers, widgets for your blogs or social networks, day planners, and more.
[li]Consider planning ahead–or go off-the-cuff! Some people write reams of background info, draw out elaborate multi-page outlines, and spend entire days acting “in-character” in the weeks and months prior to NaNo. Others prefer to let the month be a fountain of unimpeded creative madness. Decide which you think you’d prefer and plan (or don’t!) accordingly.
[li]Getting a writing buddy or involve yourself in “word sprints.” Someone to keep you on-task is invaluable, whilst group “sprints” are awesome motivations to just force yourself to the task for 5, 15, or 30 minutes at a time.
I was Told that there Would be Shit b0n3rz
You were lied to. Apologies.