I recently found a book online titled NaNo for the New and Insane: A Guide to Surviving NaNoWriMo while searching for resources for the upcoming National Novel Writing Month in November. The title automatically grabbed my attention because, having participated in NaNoWriMo twice already, and Camp NaNoWriMo twice more, I would generally chalk it up to insanity. (Well, literary and very fun insanity, at the very least.)
National Novel Writing Novel Month is an online and virtual event with thousands of participants. The goal, in its purest form, is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November. The rule is to begin on November 1st without any words written towards the actual novel (although you may have written outlines, character descriptions, synopses, etc. in preparation.) There are, as always, some rebels.
NaNo for the New and Insane is a great book if you’re looking into participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. It’s accessible, easy to read, free, well-written, and not too long. (Which means you’ll be able to finish it in time for NaNoWriMo!) For those who have already participated in the madness of NaNo, this book remains a useful resource. I, myself, found a lot of tips and tricks I hadn’t heard of before.
This book is free and available through Smashwords. (Linked here for your convenience.) It’s very easy to read online or to download an ebook file and send it to e-readers like Kindles or Nooks. This is a great plus! But it is important to keep in mind that most of it wasn’t originally intended to be a book. NaNo for the New and Insane is really a curated collection of articles written by the author, Lazette Gifford, on the subject of NaNoWriMo. Content has been added in to make it a more unique experience, it’s been organized well into easy-to-follow chapters, and it always lists if the article has already appeared somewhere online.
NaNo for the New and Insane was an enjoyable read. It covers both the steps leading up to and following NaNoWriMo, which I find incredibly useful. Rather than focusing on one particular aspect, it gives a sweeping yet sufficiently detailed panorama of life before, during, and after NaNo. Granted, portions of this book (namely the post-NaNoWriMo chapters) are primarily meant for someone whose objective on November 1st is to begin–and hopefully finish–the draft. Gifford does, however, make mentions of hobby writing with suggestions for those looking to write solely for fun.
Since I’ve already participated in NaNoWriMo a few times, a lot of what Gifford said was already common knowledge to me. However, she still brought up a lot of useful ideas, like the concept of using “phases” to plan out your novel. I also found her idea of NaNoWriMo as a time to explore new genres refreshing and intriguing. I will definitely implement some of Gifford’s character-building techniques.
Gifford’ ideas are very adaptable to those who have a limited time frame for outlining (since NaNoWriMo is upon us!), and also to those who already have set outlines (since they can turn to some of her suggestions and adapt them on the spot).
There are a few typos here and there; not a huge deal, but something I did pick up on. (I tend to notice typos a bit more than most.) Additionally, this book was written in 2006 and revised again in 2011. However, some parts of it do still seem a bit outdated.
I found certain aspects of this book tinged with the author’s personal opinions. That’s to be expected, as with any book, but it is important to keep that in mind when reading. (Some of the ways she represents self-publishing, for example, are different from the ways I’ve seen it represented.)
All in all, I give this book a well-deserved 3.5 stars out of 5. NaNo for the New and Insane has plenty of potential; perhaps with another revision to expand on some points and update it to the current year, it would be a perfect handbook to those taking the plunge into the insanity of NaNoWriMo!