How to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel

nano_poster_2014November marks the beginning of another National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). This is my fourth year taking up the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days along with thousands of other writers around the world. But this year, I’m doing something a little different.

I’m being a NaNo rebel.

A NaNo rebel is someone who doesn’t follow the NaNoWriMo guidelines in some way. Whether it’s continuing a work in progress instead of starting something new or writing a work that isn’t a novel, there are many ways to be a rebel. This year, I’m attempting to write 50,000 words worth of personal essays instead of a novel. It’s kind of a crazy undertaking, but I’m giving it a shot. So far, I’ve already written six new essays that I plan to edit and submit in December.

One of the things I love about NaNoWriMo is that you can be part of the fun without being locked into doing any particular thing. I’m using NaNo in the way that best suits my writerly needs right now. Some people use it to get a kickstart on an old project. Others only participate for part of the month. Many are writing memoirs, short story collections, or graphic novels. NaNoWriMo can be anything you want it to be.

For me, NaNo has always been about the motivation and, most importantly, the community. Going to write-ins, meeting like-minded creative types, and working toward a crazy shared goal is very encouraging and helps break up the solitary writer life I lead at least 30 days out of the year.

So, if you’ve heard rumblings about NaNoWriMo, or you’ve checked it out but got frightened away by the specifics or the word count, I still highly recommend being part of it. It’s not to late to join in. You can participate online and/or find local meetups in your area. No one will judge you for being a rebel—there’s even a whole forum on the website devoted to us.

To all of those participating in NaNoWriMo this year, best of luck hitting your 50K! I also want to extend a special thank you to the region of Los Angeles and our fantastic Municipal Liaisons who put together all of our events and many of the write-ins.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are you writing?

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8 replies to “How to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel”

  1. Kerry says:

    I am doing it for my second time. The motivation is the thing I love. For some reason, knowing so many others are doing it helps. I had an idea for a novel in my head for years and finally wrote it last year, but I am writing the second part of it this year. Didn’t know if that was against rules, but went ahead. The site is just a little overwhelming and difficult for anyone who is visually impaired. At least I find it to be so. I have an account and user name on the site, but I end up keeping track of my daily word count on Twitter. It also sucks because there don’t seem to be any groups in my area and I still end up feeling isolated. I will see how this month goes, but I love your essay idea. Sounds very interesting.

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thanks for the comment, Kerry! I’m sorry to hear that there aren’t any groups in your area. I’m lucky to live in L.A. since there are a ton of meetups here, but the forums can be a good resource too. They also do word wars and chats on Twitter if you find the site hard to navigate. Good luck with your book!

      1. Alana says:Author

        Also, check out There are usually people on there doing word wars and chatting.

  2. Pj says:

    You lovely rebel you!

    1. Alana says:Author


  3. Ivy9 says:

    This is my fourth year doing NaNo as a rebel. I’m still doing memoir and it’s all still part of the same work. Maybe some day it will finally be done, or at least part of it will, but right now it still feels neverending.

    Congrats on breaking out of the mold. Personal essays sound like a worthwhile endeavor!

    1. Alana says:Author

      I know that feeling for sure. It took me four years to write a complete draft of my memoir. I used last year’s NaNo to give me a push to finish the last few chapters. It’s great that you’re keeping at it!

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