It’s occurred to me that in another two weeks or so, I’ll be talking a lot about NaNoWriMo and maybe some of you aren’t familiar with it. Maybe you’ve heard of it, but aren’t sure what it entails.Â Maybe you know exactly what it is, but you’re mystified by why anyone would want to do it.
Maybe you’ve secretly considered it, but find it too terrifying to attempt.
So, for those of you who know all this, please bear with me. I’d like to explain what NaNoWriMo is, why I do it, and maybe convince a few people to grab my hand and take the plunge. If you know all this and you’re already gearing up to participate, go get a cup of coffee while I talk about it. Refill mine for me while you’re in the kitchen?
First of all, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s run by the non-profit organization The Office of Letters and Light. Their goal is to help people achieve their creative potential, using this program and several others. They’ve built an international community, so nobody has to be alone while working toward their own goals.
Every November hundreds of thousands of people gather, both physically and virtually, with the intention of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. That sounds like a lot. But if you’re not a writer, it probably sounds like a random, meaningless number. I know it did to me when I started out.
50k words is the minimum number required for a work to be classified as a novel. 50k words is a very short book. One word less than 50k would classify it as a novella. I know. That still doesn’t really put it in perspective.
My blog posts generally weigh in at around 500 words (though I have a feeling this one will go long). So, that would make 50k the equivalent of about 100 blog posts.
A typed page (double spaced) is roughly 250 words. So 50k is around 200 pages.
50k in 30 days is 1667 words per day. Depending on how well things are going, I write 500 to 1000 or so words in an hour. So, technically, if I have all my ducks lined up and things are going well, I can crank out those words in two hours or less. That seems about average for most people I’ve talked to. I’m not particularly speedy.
Nobody ever sees what you’ve written in that time unless you share it with them. This isn’t about writing the perfect story, turning it in for a grade, or even trying to get it published.
This is about taking the time to really focus and push yourself. I spent a lot of years telling people that I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t have the self-discipline or the guts to sit down and really try until I joined this event. If I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have learned what I’m capable of.
And to me, that’s the most incredible part of NaNoWriMo — it pushes people to reach farther than they ever have before. It pushes people to try for something they didn’t think they could do. It’s a marathon you don’t have to train for.
I was right. This post is already going long, and I still have a lot more to say. So, we’re going to break this up. On Monday, we’ll talk more about why I do NaNo, what the rules are, and why the rules don’t matter.
See you real soon!