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What is the Value of Participating in NaNoWriMo?

by Molly Blaisdell

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every year since 1999, writers have joined together to "quick draft" 50,000+ word novels during the month of November. You might be considering the value of participating in NaNoWriMo. It's a huge investment of time during a busy season of the year. Why would anyone do that? Having grown to over 250,000 participants, obviously a few writers are getting something out of it. But what? The following will help unravel the mystery. 

  • Accountability -- This is a big motivation for many writers to participate in NaNoWriMo. They want to write a novel, but they can't seem to find the discipline to get it done. Just like the gym helps some to exercise regularly, NaNoWriMo helps writers set realistic goals and connects them with other writers for a set period of time. This gentle accountability has helped many writers finally finish a draft of their novel. 
  • Competition -- There is a competitive piece to NaNoWriMo. It's the same idea as completing a marathon. Some are racing to be first. Most just want to finish. Everyone who finishes NaNoWriMo gets their name on the official winner's page. And more, you get swag: a snazzy winner's certificate for your wall and web badge for your blog. Laurels like this motivate some. 
  • Networking -- With online forums and many community events, this is a great way to meet other writers. As you journey together through the month of November, some participants find critique partners or groups for the revision road ahead. Also, NaNoWriMo groups often meet in libraries and bookstores and this gives participants the opportunity to meet local librarians and bookstore owners in the guise of a writer and not just a patron or customer. 
  • Perks -- Winners of NaNoWriMo receive a number of perks for completing their novels. From half-off software like Scriviner (popular writing software) to Dragon (popular speech to text software), many writers participate because they want to try the software and half-off sounds like a good price. There is also an array of self-publishing perks offered for those who complete their manuscripts.
  • Support -- Many would-be novelists languish because they lack support. Their families and friends laugh whenever they start speaking about their novels. They've tried writer groups but the year-long commitments do not fit their schedules. Writers turn to NaNoWriMo for support. This community is vast. Participants are divided into regions and are given guides to cheer you on. You are emailed regular pep talks during the month. You also have the opportunity to attend live events with other writers. Finally the whole event is over in a month; hence you may freely move away from the support and return to your regular life.

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