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  • Celia Jenkins

BaBs - NaNoWriMo

For this month's first BaBs article, I'd like to showcase something I love which you may not have heard of. I first heard of this many years ago at university, thought to myself what a good idea! I'll do that! and then promptly forgot about it. However, something reminded me of it a few years ago and in 2015 I took part in – and was a 'winner' of – NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month.

You may remember that back in April I took part in NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) which is a similar thing, based on the novel version which runs in November. The idea is simple: write a novel in a month. They class anything over 50,000 words to be a novel. That's 1,667 words per day, every day for the month of November.

Why? Well, if you're a writer you'll know how hard it can be to find the time to write. Whether it's work, school, university or just general life getting in the way, finding the time to sit down and write a novel can seem just as impossible as cracking one out in a month. However, NaNo provides a great platform for writers to motivate themselves to get something down on paper. With a clear target, it's easy to mark your progress and see how you're getting along. Most Wrimo's won't manage their 1,667 words every day – sometimes you miss the word count or write nothing at all one day, but then perhaps you'll be on a roll and crack out 5,000 words the next day. With a handy word counter built into the website (with statistical graphics to make it super clear) it's easy to keep track.

What is the benefit of having this online? Well, aside from having a place to mark your progress, the NaNoWriMo website is stuffed full of useful stuff for writers. Firstly, you can meet fellow writers. Mark yourself on the NaNo map and see other writers who are scribbling away in your area. Meet-ups only tend to happen in larger cities, but even if you don't get to meet up in person, you can contact fellow writers through the website for support and camaraderie. You can join online forums to discuss anything and everything, from writers block and info about contacting publishers to just chewing the fat. Also, check out the 'inspiration' section on the website. They have handy articles to help inspire you while you prepare to write your novel, and pep talks by real, published authors, including New York Times Bestsellers. Authors who have contributed include: Audrey Niffenegger, James Patternson, Lemony Snicket, Meg Cabot, Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby and Philip Pullman. Pep talks from previous years are available on the website.

So what happens if you 'win'? Well, to win NaNo you have to write 50,000 words within the month of November, and upload your work (securely) to the website for validation. If you've managed it, there is no 'prize' as such but you do get access to a whole bunch of goodies, donated to NaNoWriMo by various companies. These goodies include freebies and discounts from programs such as Scrivener, Storyist, Scribophile, Kobo and Evernote. If you are a budding writer and in need of some useful tools to aid your craft, a NaNo win will have you well set up for your future scribblings. Aside from that, you can also download a certificate to prove your achievement, as well as banners and logos for your website or Facebook page.

I love NaNoWriMo. It's such a good idea – a great way to meet people with similar interests, and an awesome way to channel your creativity with a clear focus. I managed to meet up with some fellow writers during the 2016 NaNoWriMo (in Japan!) and despite not completing NaNo that year, I made some awesome friends. I plan to take part in NaNo again this year, and I'm also currently in the process of editing the YA novel I wrote during the 2015 NaNo.

If you are a wannabe writer but feel like you never get around to your writing, challenge yourself to NaNoWriMo this year. It's free to join, and if you stick to your goals and make time to meet deadlines you'll soon be churning out a whole novel. It sure isn't easy fitting in 1,667 words every single day, but with the added focus and motivation you get through NaNo, it's much easier than it normally would be! For more information, check out the NaNoWriMo website, and also look into their other programs such as Camp NaNoWriMo and The Young Writers Program.

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