Nanowrimo: Friend or Foe?

NanoWrimo. Every writer knows it. Plenty of writers try it. Few actually complete it. But what is Nanowrimo?

Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a movement to push writers to their limits. Kicking off at 12:01 AM Nov. 1st and finishing midnight of November 30th, writers attempt to complete fifty thousand words in just 30 days for an average of 1,677 words a day.

Based on the website Nanowrimo.org, writers are able to track their word count through the month while seeing the total word count produced in your area by local and world-wide writers. But why? What is the push that compels writers to embark on this mission?

Hamline Junior and Creative Writing Major Lauren Stretar commented that it may be exhausting, but it has given her the knowledge that she can sit down and write 11,000 words in two days. “This sense of accomplishment and the sheer amount that I’ve written through [Nanowrimo] has pushed me more as a writer than anything else,” Lauren said. She has successfully met the fifty thousand word mark four out of the six times she has attempted it.

While it has pushed many writers to produce content, it is not for everyone. Madelaine Formica, also a Hamline Junior and Creative Writing Major, is one of the writers that chooses not to participate. For her, it just doesn't fit her writing style. “I can write for three hours in one day, then the next I need to sit and let the characters rest a bit.”

Excerpt from The Chosen One, a novel in progress by Madelain Formica. Photo by Madelaine Formica, Hamline Junior

Madelaine also made the point that whether or not Nanowrimo works really depends on the author’s writing style. “It doesn't work for those who can’t or don’t wish to overmap their piece.”

The largest argument that is both for and against Nanowrimo is the strict timetable.  “It’s great if you want to set a goal for yourself, you just don’t need a whole month just to set a goal and then break yourself up for not hitting it,” Madelaine claimed. For Lauren, she is in her element when it comes to the pressure to meet a deadline.

“When I put my mind to finishing, it’s the only thing that matters,” Lauren continued. For her, the pressure is still stressful but the sense of accomplishment when she’s finished pushes her forward.

Laurens biggest accomplishment was recovering from falling behind over eleven thousand words and catching up in just two days. “I finished overcoming astronomical odds,” Lauren said happily. She is currently in the process of editing her novel Broken Crown.

The graph provided by Nanowrimo proving Lauren’s commitment in 2015. Photo by Lauren Stretar​

Whether or not Nanowrimo is for you is something every writer has to find out on their own. For or against Nanowrimo, the best advice out there for new writers, the advice that was the drive behind Nanowrimo, is to write and don’t stop writing.