The question was asked in a NaNo forum: What does NaNoWriMo mean to you? The short answer is 30 crazy days of writing your heart out. The long answer I will attempt to cover in this post, which is also a test to see how long it takes me to write 1,667 words (the daily word count goal for NaNoWriMo). – Please note that this post was written before NaNo started, however it is just now being posted.
National Novel Writing Month means 30 days of literary abandon according to the NaNo website. However, to the authors who participate each year, it means so much more. It is a time for connecting with other authors around the world. It is the month that stretches your creativity farther than you ever have before. It’s a month of crazy word count goals and seemingly impossible deadlines. It is a month where the impossible is made possible. To many authors, November is the magic month where they get to do what they love without distraction. A month where writer’s unite in coffee shops and libraries around the world.
Each year fall means stressing over plots, characters, and outlines. It means coming up with the story that you can write 50k words about in less than a month. It means logging onto web forums, and getting to know authors near you.
November 1st marks the start of the race to 50k. It marks the beginning of the month-long writing expedition: writing free from editing, and creating insanely funny NaNo-isms. For many authors, November is a month without any square meals, but only food that they can make quickly and eat while they type. It’s a month they only speak to other NaNo participants, a month where the rest of the world seems to stand still.
For me, NaNo is simply a month of creativity. Because I normally write non-fiction, it’s a chance to stretch my imagination and write something just for fun. While some authors hope to produce best-selling novels during this crazy 30 days, I just strive to exercise my mind. I never go into NaNo expecting to write a best seller, however if I did, I certainly wouldn’t complain. NaNo is basically the world’s largest writing workshop. You don’t get a prompt, just a goal.
You get encouragement, support, and feedback from other authors that are writing right along-side you (literally if you attend a write-in), and if you succeed in reaching the 50k goal, you get to be a winner. You can tell the world that you wrote a novel. How cool is that?!
It is at this point that I must tell you that hitting the daily word count goal of 1667 words is not easy. After rambling for ten minutes about what NaNo means to authors, I am still only sitting at just over 450 words, yeah, that’s 1204 words short. It gets even harder when you factor in the story you are writing. There are days where writer’s block occurs, or your story starts to wane. For many NaNo writers November means a month of write or die. Where they force themselves to keep their fingers moving no matter what they are thinking of. It means a month of writing words that might not even make sense but are somehow possibly related to their plot, just so that they can hit their word count goal.
Of course each December brings the editing of the NaNo masterpieces. Authors go back through and read the funny things that they wrote when their brains were sweating, and their hands were limp. They get to go back through their novels and attempt to make sense of their NaNo-isms. They hope that somewhere within their 200 page document is a fantastic novel that will make them rich! If they believe that what they have written isn’t total and complete rubbish, they get to spend the time perfecting it and seeking out publication.
For 30 authors, NaNoWriMo means getting a free cover designed for their novel. For others it means taking advantage of special deals that are only offered to NaNo participants. For still other authors, it is simply a reason to write the novel that has been stuck in their head for years. It’s a reason to write, and that is all they need.
While some authors are sucked into the forums, other authors never even enter them.
While some authors fall short of the 50k goal, others strive to reach it on day one.
While some authors participate for the first year, others have participated every year since NaNo began. While other authors participate every now and again when they have nothing better to do, or decide that they have something worth writing.
The possibilities of what National Novel Writing Month could mean to someone are absolutely endless. So I must ask you: What does NaNoWriMo mean to you?
20 minutes = 800 words, at this pace it would take me just under an hour to hit the 1667 word count goal. However, the chances of me continuing to type at this speed, without any distractions, is not very likely for that long (unless the kids are all in bed and my creativity is flowing freely). Well, I’ll consider this a successful test. Thank you for sticking with me. Have you ever tested to see how long it takes you to reach 1667 words? I’d love to hear about it.