National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

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November is known by writers around the world as a very special month. It is a month where one specific goal comes into sharp focus: write 50,000 words in 30 days.

If you’re not used to thinking in thousands of words, 50k is a short novel, or a thesis. It’s quite a feat to produce this amount at all, let alone within a month.

So how do these magical NaNoWriMo writers accomplish this?

Quantity over quality.

Ahh. That’s the key right there — and it’s not meant as a slur! Sometimes our perfectionism holds us back. We stare at a blinking cursor on the screen, unwilling to commit words to (digital) paper until we have crafted the perfect sentence in our minds.

If we don’t break out of that, our page will stay blank.

Effective writers know that sometimes you need to throw quality out the window, and focus on getting words down, no matter how bad they are.

After all, December is national editing month. ;)

So how does NaNoWriMo work?

People from all over the world register on the NaNoWriMo website. They create a profile with details about their writing project, and there are forums to discuss all kinds of topics.

At the end of each day, writers can log in and update their daily tally. 1502 words. 4281 words. 420 words.

You can see the progress bars of other participants growing, slowly or quickly. It’s writing as a community, with the support and accountability that community brings.

Community writing is challenging, it’s fun, it’s inspiring. And it can be very effective.

Often there are smaller local NaNoWriMo communities, who join forces to take over cafés or libraries — they’ve realised that writing together in the same physical space amplifies their effectiveness.

Sitting together in front of your laptops, you all have the same goal. Write. You encourage each other just by being there; the background tap-tap-tap-tap of fingers on keyboards cheers you on. Productivity soars.

If the positive effect of group writing in cafés during one month of a year works well, just think what a regular, structured and catered writing group can achieve...

Helsinki Writing Retreats take community writing to the next level.

Helsinki retreats are two and a half days of protected writing time. It’s something you commit to: it’s booked in your calendar, and no colleagues, dirty dishes or family demands can intrude on your time.

An expert facilitator keeps participants to set times for writing and planning, relaxation and meals. The facilitator also provides support, tips and strategies for writing, both in a group setting and 1-on-1 as needed.

Yoga interludes and nutritionist-designed snack breaks ensure that health and wellbeing are not forgotten in the quest for a higher wordcount.

The venues are characterful and classy, with great meals and a range of facilities. Accommodation is available if you’re coming from afar, or if you’re a local wanting full immersion.

Whether it’s your epic novel, thesis, research chapter, annual report or any other kind of writing project, make the national novel writing month of November your month to get things done.

storiesJessie Cat