How to be a #NaNoWriMo Rebel

Photo shows a sign that reads 'No Bicycles, Please" and a bike leaning against a stone wall under it. The post title, "How to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel" is superimposed on top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig 

I’ve never officially been part of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo: more about the event here. If you’re interested in signing up, here’s how).  Wikipedia’s NaNoWriMo entry explains how to ‘win’ at the event:

To win NaNoWriMo, participants must write an average of approximately 1,667 words per day in November to reach the goal of 50,000 words written toward a novel. Organizers of the event say that the aim is to get people to start writing, using the deadline as an incentive to get the story going and to put words to paper….NaNoWriMo focuses on the length of a work rather than the quality, encouraging writers to finish their first draft so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion.

To be a regular participant, you are to start on a brand-new manuscript on November 1. I’m always in the middle of a project at that point.  Besides, there’s Thanksgiving to think about.  It’s never been the most convenient time for me. (If you’re like me, there’s also Camp NaNo, in April and July).

But I’ve always fed off of the energy and the writing sprints of the NaNoWriMo community.  I lurk in the forums and get motivated.

I also tend to beat my usual writing goal…by a huge amount.

I’ve also, in the past, looked at it as an opportunity to get other writing-related things done.

NaNoWriMo is well-aware that there are rebels among them.  :)  They have a special forum for rebels that states:

You’re writing a memoir, an essay, a comic, or something else that’s not a novel. Come join the NaNo Rebels and converse with your fellow outlaws here.

Ideas for rebelling:  

Write nonfiction, or write your nonfiction outline/table of contents

Write essays (or freelance articles), a memoir, etc.

Work on several projects that need completing

Revise a project that you’ve already drafted.

Finish a work-in-progress

Write an outline for a project.

Write and send queries, if pursuing traditional publishing or freelance writing

Research and upload your existing books to aggregators  like PublishDrive, StreetLib, Draft2Digital, or Smashwords in order to expand your reach.

Research and upload your books to a POD distributor like IngramSpark.

Set a smaller goal.  Instead of shooting for the 50,000 words of NaNo, shoot for 30,000. Or just 15,000–whatever you think you can manage and that represents an increase of what you’re doing now.  Or plan on finishing a novella for your email newsletter list or as a free book

Write a blog post every day for a month (think how far you’ll get ahead on your editorial calendar, if you don’t post every day).

The idea is to set a writing-related goal and meet it.  What’s something that you need to make quick progress on?

How will you count toward your goal?  Some of goal-reaching will be intrinsic, depending on the project (uploading to aggregators or writing a blog post each day, for instance).  Some of them may be more complicated to count (revision).  Here are some ideas via writer J.J. Burry, compiled from the NaNoWriMo forum:

  1. Count the same way: word=word — each word you revise goes toward your daily word count.
  2. Average: take the average words that you revise per hour and count that as your daily word count.
    • If you average 500 revised words per hour, and you revise for 4 hours in a day, then your word count that day would be 2000.
  3. A ratio: for every two words revised, count one toward your NaNo goal.
  4. A set count per hour: for every hour you write, it counts as ____ words.
  5. Chapters: each chapter’s word count that you revised goes toward your daily word count goal.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo next month?  Officially, or as a rebel?

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Photo credit: kevinspencer via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

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14 thoughts on “How to be a #NaNoWriMo Rebel

  1. Thank you for the “rebellious” ideas! I have a novel that is over 70,000 words that desperately needs editing and re-writing and filling of plot holes, ad nauseum.

    I now have a goal to finish the beast in November :-)

    JL

  2. Hi Elizabeth – thanks for broadening my horizons re NaNo … I’d definitely fall into the rebel category … however good luck to all participants … thanks – I enjoyed finding out more – cheers Hilary

  3. Those are such great ideas, Elizabeth! Like you, I’ve never officially done NaNoWriMo, and it’s usually for a similar reason: the timing just doesn’t work for me. But I respect people who do. And it is a good idea to use that time to find ways to focus on writing. Thanks for these tips.

  4. NaNo.

    I’ve gone to a few “group write” encouragement sessions where I eat too many scones, drink way too much coffee, and write too little.

    I love the camaraderie of a solitary effort pursued in concert with all manner of others in the same run. I lack the discipline to be a good group participant. I’m distracted by shiny things like … sprints. And scones.

    Too many late nights in a laundry room.

    I’ll set the spin cycle to “extra fast” in honor of the courageous NaNo participants. Best to them all.

    1. Jack–You may have just made me feel better about never joining our local NaNo group. :) Although, since it’s at the library, I’m thinking there wouldn’t be scones or coffee.

      You phrased it perfectly! The camaraderie of a solitary effort in concert with others….exactly!

  5. Thanks for the great advice. Hoping to make this year 50,000-word count. Happy Holloween everyone.

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