Crazy is a pretty appropriate word to describe NaNoWriMo, an online challenge that takes place every year in November. Although NaNoWriMo originated in the USA and stands for National Novel Writing Month, it has long become international, causing writers all over the world to abandon their social lives and household duties.
Until 1 November, novelists can register on the NaNoWriMo site and vow to hit a 50,000 word goal by the end of the month. That’s about 1,667 words a day. No piece of cake.
But who doesn’t love challenges? If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this article when I have two presentations to prepare, tons of texts to read and a crippling migraine.
When I first participated in 2012, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off.
30 half-sleepless nights and uncounted bottles of Fritz kola later, I had my hands on 50,000 words of crap. I was as proud as a mother when her baby takes its first dump.
It’s true, NaNoWriMo alone might not be the best way to produce quality literature, but the important thing to keep in mind is that almost no writer starts out by creating masterpieces. We’ve got this strange conception of someone sitting down to write, crafting every sentence with care and love, and then emerging a few months later with a finished manuscript that is already perfect. In reality, most first drafts are mediocre at best, and that’s where editing comes in.
If you’ve got nothing written though, editing doesn’t even get the chance to work its magic.
The other great thing about NaNoWriMo is that it builds confidence and good habits. Confidence, when you actually get to the finish line, because you’ve proved you can sit down and write, and good habits by getting you used to writing something every day.
If you’ve already got an inner drill sergeant, or found some other great way to make yourself do the work, maybe NaNoWriMo isn’t for you. If you’re afraid of blank pages, or you’re notorious for deleting what you’ve already written, maybe you should give it a shot. Because if anything is certain, NaNoWriMo will piss off your inner critic. Maybe even so much he’ll learn to show up when you’re actually asking for his opinion.
If you choose to sign up, don’t forget to select your home region and take a look at the forum. A lot of cities have NaNoWriMo groups that meet up in real life. After all, nothing is more relieving than watching others suffer too.