It has been five years since I last participated in NanoWrimo.
Nanowhat? you ask. NanoWrimo (sometimes capitalized as NaNoWriMo, but I find all that pressing of the Shift key tiring), or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual affair that occurs every November, in which tens (hundreds?) of thousands of writers (published or not, famous or not, serious or just having fun or… not) attempt to write 50,000 new words in 30 days.
1,667 words per day. Every day.
That may not seem like a lot, and for a day here and there, it’s not. But this is every single day. If you have a full-time day job, this can be a bit daunting. If you have kids to manage, this can be daunting. If you have a social life… yeah, you might have to put that aside for a month. Also, it’s November, which in the United States is a major holiday month, in which many people travel to spend a long weekend celebrating with family.
1,667 words, each and every day of that holiday weekend, while your family celebrates around you.
What do you win if you reach the goal? Bragging rights. Some downloadable “stickers” that you can put on your blog or your social media profiles. And sometimes decent discounts for writing-related software, but that’s it. It’s not about the prizes, it’s about challenging yourself. It’s also not really a competition, at least not against other participants, because there is no limit on how many people can win. Everyone who reaches the goal is a winner.
Really, everyone who tries, who writes more in November than they normally do, and who keeps on writing, is a winner, whether they reach 50,000 words or not.
The traditional goal for NanoWrimo is to work on a new novel. Plotting is allowed in advance, but no words can be written prior to November 1st. However, the organizers have recognized that there are rebels out there who use NanoWrimo in their own way, to achieve their own ends. Some people continue work on an existing work-in-progress. Some people write multiple short stories instead of one novel. Some work on revisions and 2nd drafts. The only real caveat, the only hard-and-fast rule, is that only words newly written between November 1st and November 30th can count toward the 50,000-word goal.
I am a rebel.
As those of you following along know, I have been working on The Silence of Ancient Light for nearly a year and a half now, and in all that time I am just now approaching 50,000 words for my first draft. Turtle writing, indeed! I briefly planned to put that aside and work on two new short stories for NanoWrimo this year, but I have shelved that plan. Instead, I will continue working on SoAL, using the challenge to inspire myself to perhaps write a bit faster, a bit more prolifically, than I usually do.
Will I reach 50,000 words? As a total WIP word count, yes, but as new words just in November, almost certainly not. I already know I’m just not going to be able to do that every day.
I “won” in 2013, and let me tell you it was a lot of work. I can also tell you, however, that it sure felt good, afterwards, even if I never did anything with the story I wrote that year.
I also participated in 2012, although I did not “win” that year. Nevertheless, I was pretty happy with the words I wrote — perhaps someday I will post them here.
This year, my only goal is to make steady progress on my existing work — a rebel goal! — and perhaps also to inspire and be inspired by others who also participate.
Are you doing Nano this year? Let’s be buddies! Find me there at: