The Siren Call of National Novel Writing Month
Fall brings the melancholy whisper from writers everywhere: Should I do NaNoWriMo? For those who are unaware of this event, National Novel Writing Month is in November. The Office of Letters and Light, a nonprofit organization, sponsors various events online and around the country to get writers writing. The goal in November is to write 50,000 words, an average of 1,667 words per day. A double-spaced page, average font, has approximately 250-275 words per page. This means 6-7 typewritten pages per day.
Two years ago, I met the 50K goal and finished a rough draft of a first novel. And I’ve been asking myself the same question this year and these are the pros and cons I’ve come up with:
- I learned that I can write 50,000 words in a month.
- It brought a goal-oriented level of focus that I seem to be failing at in my daily life.
- I got a lot of silly blog material from it.
- I learned about my weaknesses as a writer (although this was mostly in the aftermath of editing).
- I learned more about novel construction – story arcs, conflict resolution, foreshadowing, etc.
- I got to whinge on interminably with fellow writers about flattened butts, hand cramps and dry eyeballs.
- That’s a lot of words for one month and if you are a procrastinator who gets hit with a flu bug, you’ll be writing your last 5,000 words in a couple of days and wishing you were not.
- Cut to two years later and I have still not finished editing my first draft. It is the dark shadow in the study – that thing I feel compelled to finish, which has led to loathing, denial and self-mocking.
NaNoWriMo is a go for me this year. I’m struggling to find my way back to writing, but seem unable to set a clear goal and follow through on it. 50,000 words, 30 days – that’s pretty straightforward. And I can devolve into a writer sapien once again. Showers will be optional, as will other forms of communication beyond grunting and wild gestures. I’m looking forward to it.