Nope – it’s November, and that means NaNoWriMo.
For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. A misnomer, that – it’s really international. People from more than just the United States participate. That aside, it means that for the month of November, people sign up – for free, mind you – and they write. And write. And write. The expected word production for participants is between 1600 and 1700 words per day.
The goal is to end up with a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. Is it possible? Definitely. 50,000 words is actually on the small end for novels – about 150 pages. And some folks end up with a published work, after a bit of revising.
It’s not necessarily about a publishable novel. It’s about the writing and the challenge to oneself to finish something big. It’s proving to yourself that you can stick to a project, work though problems and blocks and come out the other side with a (slightly punchy) smile on your face. It’s realizing that you can work regularly on your writing, and finding the reward in finishing something.
For me, it’s also a way to grease the gears. When I am writing regularly, I write more on everything. I won’t just end up writing on my NaNo piece, I’ll end up writing on lots of things. Productivity leads to more productivity. And that feels good.
I have done NaNoWriMo before. Several years ago, I finished. And the book I wrote – well, let’s just say that I had too many characters for the size of the book. But I got my words done, and I had a plot and everything. That one still exists – it just needs a complete overhaul. But for my first longer effort (short stories being my usual genre), it worked. I realized that I could work out a plot in a longer format, and found that I enjoyed the more leisurely character development.
I began NaNoWriMo last year, but did not finish for various reasons. (And all of them were, in retrospect, pathetic excuses – the sort of excuses that if anyone else had uttered them at me, I would have given them that raised-eyebrow mom-look that always causes a hasty and embarrassed retraction of whatever has been said. Ahem.) But the ideas and the work done still exist, so only harm done was to my pride.
Tonight at midnight, east coast time, people will start to write. They will have tossed around dozens of ideas, or hoarded one idea greedily in anticipation of November. They will have thought about characters and plots and complications. They will have sharpened pencils and charged computers. Finally, the clock will tick over to November 1, and they will be able to sit down and write.
Over the month, they may closet themselves in a quiet place, hiding from friends and family, snarling at interruptions, or they may meet in coffee shops and write in groups. They might take a pad and pen outside in the fresh air. But no matter where they choose to work, they will write. They will groan when they can’t think of what to do next, but they will still write. They won’t revise, they won’t rewrite – that is for next month. They will just forge on through and get it done.
And at the end of the month, they will have a shiny new novel and a sense of a job completed.
I intend to be one of those finishers this year. It’s fun, it’s productive, and it’s just something that I like to do.
Want to join in the fun? You may have to play catch-up with the word count, but hey, what’re a few more words, right? Come on over to NaNoWriMo and be a part of a very big, very cool thing. And then write.