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Events and contests and sprints: oh, yeah!

Yes, dear #WritingCommunity, it is that time of year when thousands of like-minded writers will foolis—I mean, heartily, that’s the word—throw themselves into that simultaneously most beloved and reviled annual write of passage: NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

If you’re not familiar with it, NaNoWriMo, which takes place for the entire month of November every year, is a time for writers to craft 50,000 words of a brand new novel. The idea is that you should not revise an existing novel, but should instead “write raw” and simply let the words flow from your pen, keyboard, or the blood of your eyeballs onto the page without stopping to censor yourself.

The NaNo Community

The wonderful thing about NaNo is how the community has grown and evolved since it began in 1999. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online support groups you can join that provide encouragement every day. We all know that writing is a lonely endeavor, and most of the time, we can feel as if we are writing in a silo.

When you become a member of an online NaNo group, you have a built-in network of cheerleaders who check in with you daily to make sure that you are meeting your word-count goal. There are even Twitter hashtags you can follow for hourly sprints to increase productivity.


Nervous about trying to write an entire manuscript in thirty days and simply diving in head first? #Preptober is for you. You can do all kinds of activities to get yourself ready to draft, such as character sketches, world building, plot outline, beat sheets, and more. Or maybe you simply use this month to set up your quiet work space and arrange child care.

Everyone’s A Winner!

When my daughters were in elementary and middle school, I was not a huge proponent of participation ribbons. You went to school and got good grades? Well, that’s dandy. But isn’t that what you should have been doing all along? We created a generation of adults who now want recognition for simply showing up. We did them no favors.

However, with NaNo, I’m all about the participation ribbons. If you show up and do the work, you really are a winner, even if you don’t complete all 50,000 words. Did you write every day? Did you try your hardest? Did you support other writers in their efforts? Do you have something that you can hold in your hands and use as a starting point for another draft? Then you win.

So I say do it. Visit nanowrimo.org/ to sign up or to learn more about the organization. On Twitter, follow #NaNoWriMo2019, #NaNoWriMo, #Preptober2019, #Preptober, #NaNo, #WritingCommunity, and #amwriting. There are many more hashtags you can follow by joining support groups, early morning writing clubs, sprint groups, etc. Now get in gear and go do it! And remember that your #angeleditors will be here to help you.

Jay Whistler provides developmental edits for picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult novels. She also offers editorial assessments, query and synopsis critiques, and more. Find out more about Jay here.

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