National Novel Writing Month begins in ten days – meaning hundreds of thousands of writers across the world will begin a sprint to write 50,000 words before November ends. Everyone has their tricks and tips.
But this year, two YA writers decided to try a different trick: a NaNoWarmUp.
“Kat [Zhang] and I were gchatting, as we frequently do, and talking about our various projects and current writing goals when Kat brought up the upcoming NaNoWriMo in November,” explained Savannah Foley, an upcoming author currently signed with Bradford Literary Agency.
Zhang, author of What’s Left Of Me and the upcoming sequel Once We Were, brought up the idea of using October to warm up, which lead to a suggestion of a twitter hashtag, which lead to the creation of the NaNoWarmUp blog.
What is NaNoWarmUp? It’s exactly what it sounds like – using the month of October to prepare for NaNoWriMo by writing 25,000 words in 31 days.
The project made sense for the two founders. Zhang wanted to use NaNoWarmUp to work on a project unrelated to her series. Foley wantd to work on a new manuscript called The Cobworld.
They did not want to be alone on the venture.
“The most important part of the project that we wanted to build was a sense of community. That’s where all the fun is during NaNoWriMo: going to the meetups or doing sprints online, and using the energy of others to stay motivated and committed,” said Foley.
Foley, who has participated in NaNoWriMo for four years, found that one of the most important things to be learned from NaNoWriMo was a sense of community. This same pro-community stance became a big part of NaNoWarmUp, from encouraging comments to weekly check-ins.
“Remember when NaNoWriMo got big and lots of writers publicly bashed it for encouraging mediocre work or making the public think it was easy to write quality fiction? I would go to local meetups and watch amateur writers tap away at their laptops with the criticism of published authors ringing in my head, and just be bewildered at how anyone could see NaNoWriMo as a bad thing. People who love books love writing. NaNoWriMo engages not only those who consider themselves writers, but the readers of those writers. NaNoWriMo is one big love letter to books. Participating taught me to be gracious towards aspiring writers, because they’re not my competition, they’re my comrades,” said Foley.
Zhang and Foley knew from the beginning that the community they built was going to consist largely of YA authors, making this especially helpful for making connections with other YA writers. However, the biggest benefit of the community came from community energy – which inevitably led to motivation.
“What’s been great is seeing our participants ride all that energy on Twitter, hosting sprints, encouraging each other, and sharing pictures of where they’re writing. I’ve seen tons of tweets about how much easier writing 806 words per day is than 1,667. Most of our participants work like me, or go to school like Kat, or both! Showing writers they can write 25,000 words in a month despite all those time-obstacles not only advances everyone’s projects but hopefully gives our participants the inspiration to keep adding words after October and November are over. That can’t be bad for any writer, no matter the genre,” said Foley.
A lot of people get intimidated by how much they are trying to accomplish with NaNoWriMo or NaNoWarmUp, but Foley has some tips for any worried writers.
“The best thing you can do is prepare. Even if you think you’re a pantser, try to know your ending before you get there so you don’t get burned out feeling lost in the middle of writing. Don’t quit if you fall behind! Even if you don’t make the full goal, each word you add is one you didn’t have before. There’s no ‘losing’ if you’ve added words. As the saying goes, you can’t fix a blank page,” said Foley.