Why NaNoWriMo?

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The what?

NaNoWriMo? The first time I saw this acronym I thought it might be a computer programming term. You know, like GIGO? Garbage in, Garbage out. It turns out that it has nothing to do with computer programming. This funny word, which also reminded me of my first email password-zugubufu( let’s keep that between us, shall we?) stands for National Novel Writing Month.

The idea is to write a novel of at least 50 000 words during the month of November. This internet based initiative uses “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon! No Plot? No Problem!” as its slogan.


In November, 2013, there were 310,095 participants. The website says that auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers walked away as novelists. I am unsure if this means that so many people participated, or if it refers to the amount of completed novels.

But considering that the goal of NaNoWriMo is to encourage people to write, it seems like a successful initiative.

The program has 5 basic steps. These are:

  1. Announce your Novel to the NaNoWriMo community: You announce the title and your commitment to writing a 50 000 + word novel during the month of November.
  2. Earn Badges: This is done by writing and interacting with the community. This social support system of like-minded people keeps you motivated, and might even provide a measure of accountability.Badges are also awarded for how many words you have written, that is, you are rewarded for your effort. Rewards motivate.
  3. Get Inspired: NaNoWriMo knows very well that writers often become disheartened and give up. To counter this they provide loads of useful resources. There are a whole range of pep talks by authors- the not so famous and the extremely well-known.I particularly enjoyed reading what the bestselling Neil Gaiman (American Gods and The Sandman series) and Lemony Snicket (The Lemony Snicket series) had to say about starting and completing a novel.Both these authors encourage without being patronizing. They know the common pitfalls of the writing life and share how they overcome them, book after book.
  4. Go! : Once the calendar says 1st November, the light turns green and you can start writing. Your word count is constantly updated, helping you to stay motivated and keep on going.What we see here is that NaNoWriMo subtly influences the way you prepare to write your novel. It is possible to just sit down and write 50 000 words, but it is so much easier if you are prepared.When you listen to Neil Gaiman or Sue Grafton talk about overcoming writer’s block or use NaNoWriMo resources to create a plot, you just might write better and perhaps even finish!

    NaNoWriMo also accommodates and facilitates for people like me who prefer spontaneity!

  5. Validate your Novel: From the 20th of November, you are allowed to paste your complete novel “into” NaNoWriMo. You are now in-line to win a prize! Have a look at the list of possible prizes if your motivation is lagging.

IIWaToBuWiToONeYe or Why NaNoWriMo?

My very elegant acronym IIWaToBuWiToONeYe stands for International I Want to but will Tomorrow or Next Year.

Let me ask you how many literate people threaten to write a novel? I would say that conservative estimates would come up with about 99%..

However, 99% of those live by Mark Twain’s advice “Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Most of us find reasons to not start writing our novel today. There are perhaps 50 000 reasons not to write a 50 000 word book.

Why NaNoWriMo? As I said earlier, their official slogan is “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon! No Plot? No Problem!” If you take a long hard look at it you will see the secret message hidden in there! (Lot’s of coffee, about 13 espressos will clarify your vision!)

Do you see it? Do you see it? It is there! Look! There slogan is secret code for “Just do it!” But they do not want Nike to know that!

Actually, there slogan goes further that “Just do it!” Perhaps it should be “Just do it, and remember we are here to help you, inspire you and walk with you. We believe in you and that is why we compiled these resources and created a community which will help you even more!” (Try fitting that on a sweatband!)

“National Novel Writing Month… believes your story matters. Our mission statement: National Novel Writing Month organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential.” From the NaNoWriMo

Not only do these guys agree that you and me and the rest of the 99% have a story to tell, but they also believe that each of these stories matter. You do not have to be a modern day Shakespeare (O plot, o plot, where art thou?) to matter. The whole NaNoWriMo thingamajig is about much more than just writing 50 000 words- it’s about recognizing the struggle to get those words written down and providing the motivation to make our dreams come true.

Go ahead, and get inspired!


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