National Novel Writing Month is a wonderful way to knock out a first draft of a manuscript. And that’s exactly what you have at the end of the 30-day personal challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in just a month. Because 50K is on the short end of actual novel length, you’ll have work to do after November. And therein is the joy of NaNo. You write without editing or fixing or fretting for 30 days. And then, when it’s over and you get some much-needed rest, the core of your novel is there and waiting for you. As writing guru Natalie Goldberg says, you're "writing down the bones" of the book.
For those who think perfection is required to draft a novel and that 30 days yields little of it, consider what New York Times best-sellingauthor Nora Roberts has to say: “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.”
NaNoWriMo gives you the freedom to just explore whatever comes to you. You can fix it, flesh it out later when you add the nuances that aren’t captured in the rush toward the 50K-word finish line.
Personally, I use NaNo to draft novels in a mystery series I’m writing. Every November I know I will immerse myself in the world of that protagonist. Later, much later, comes the revision, the editing, the fine-tuning that makes a messy first draft into a marketable manuscript.
As for my track record, yes, I’ve had epic fails. My first NaNo in 2008, was a true disaster. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of not editing or fixing each day’s work. But I got the hang of it and tout the benefits of the month-long challenge. I come back each new November to do it again, and again. Entering the 2015 NaNo season, I am 5-4, five wins, four fails. But even the fail of not reaching the 50,000 words in 30 days is actually a win because if you write anything at all during NaNoWriMo, that’s more than you would have written had you not tried at all.