Monday, October 29, 2012

Forget NaNoWriMo - Try NaNoFiWriMo!

Later this week, hundreds of thousands of writers will be sitting down to start NaNoWriMo - NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. It all kicks off on the 1st November and finishes at midnight on 30th November.

Well, why not forget NaNoWriMo and have a go at NaNoFiWriMo instead? Okay, I've just made that up, but NaNoFiWriMo stands for NAtional NOn-FIction WRIting MOnth.

If you've never come across NaNoWriMo before, the aim of the game is to spend November writing 50,000 words of your novel. Some writers get the 50,000 words written and then spend December working at a slightly slower pace to finish off their novels. The idea is that with 50,000 words behind you, by the end of November you're on the downhill stretch to finishing the novel, or rather the first draft of a novel, so you're much more likely to complete that first draft. I know of many people who have successfully achieved this, and this scheme can be an excellent way to get you writing.

But why write a novel? Why not write a non-fiction book instead? If those writing novels get their 50,000 words done by 30th November, they are two-thirds, or perhaps only half way through their novel. They still have between 30,000 and another 50,000 words to go in order to write a 'standard length' novel. But with a non-fiction book, 50,000 words is one of the commonest standard word lengths. So why spend November writing half a book, when you could write a WHOLE book instead?

Several of my non-fiction books are 50,000 words, including The Positively Productive Writer, Best Walks in the Welsh Borders, Fundraising for a Community Project, and Running A Writers Circle.

In fact, you could register for NaNoWriMo and write a non-fiction book instead. They don't check the content, just the number of words you write.

What works really well about NaNoWriMo is that non-writers get the concept. Tell someone that you're entering a competition to see how many writers can write 50,000 words in a month, and everyone understands. They also understand when you tell them that you won't be socialising much during November, because you're doing NaNoWriMo. Friends will acknowledge this, knowing that come December you'll be back on the social scene. You're not locking yourself away forever, just November! Even family members can cope with a bit of disruption, if it's only for a month.

So, to all of you out there who are taking part this year, whether you're writing a novel or a non-fiction book during the month of November, I have two words to say to you:

Good luck!