For those who haven’t participated in the global writing event, now inaccurately named the National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel in one month.
Yeah, just a little. But the goal is intended to encourage people to turn off those doubting parts of the brain, and, for writers, that internal editor, and just have fun writing like an author possessed for one month. Leave the editing until December, or even January after holiday excesses are over.
NaNoWriMo began in San Francisco in 1999 and has since spread worldwide. There are local meet-ups, kids packs for schools, preparation programs, and self-publisher deals for NaNoWriMo participants, although the NaNoWriMo organization itself remains donation-based and non profit.
However, make no mistake, this is a significant challenge whatever you decide to write and however seriously you decide to take it. You’re attempting to average 1666 words, approximately 6 pages, per day of coherent, at least somewhat flowing, fiction. For some this is easy, for others – like myself – it’s far from trivial.
I’ve personally participated in NaNoWriMo four times in the past. The two times I wasn’t prepared, mentally and with regards to my story, I didn’t even succeed in cracking 10,000. The other two times, when I was ready, and outlined my novels ahead of time, I succeeded. In both of those cases it was a thrill to see a novel, this abstract mental creation that had been vaguely floating around my head for months, take form as a completely realized story. Of course, it took a few more months to clean them up enough to properly call them a first draft, but that initial feeling of accomplishment is something I still remember almost a decade later.
This year I’ll be returning to NaNoWriMo after a long break from it. I’ve recently moved house and, with all that entails I’ve been away from writing for a while. So, succeed or not, I intend to use the excitement and encouragement of NaNoWriMo to get back to a regular writing routine. Now to start preparing.