November is just around the corner, folks, and with it comes an intense event for writers worldwide: Nanowrimo. It’s an abbreviation that stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s a month-long writing event that happens every year. Participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
You heard me right. 50,000 words. In 30 days. If you’re wondering, that factors out to roughly 1667 words per day. It’s simultaneously a nightmare and the best thing to ever happen.
The rules are simple. Everything that contributes to your word total has to be written between midnight on Nov. 1 and midnight on Nov. 30; you can’t use anything written before or after that time, but you are free to plan out your novel beforehand. In fact, you’re encouraged to.
You also actually have to write the 50,000 words. You paste your novel into a verification program that ensures you didn’t just copy and paste the same sentence over and over again and cheat your way to the finish line.
Other than that, you just write, and write like the wind, because 1667 words is a lot. Imagine writing an essay every day for 30 days straight.
The point is to get you writing. It’s common to hear people joke “Yeah, I’m a writer. But I don’t write.” Life gets busy, and writing often gets pushed to the backburner. Life often stops us from being the writers we claim to be, whether it be from busyness, a lack of motivation or not having the desire to write.
So that’s the point. The idea of competition, of a challenge and a definite goal, gets you writing and keeps you writing. You’re forced to prioritize it and push everything else to the backburner instead. And, somehow, it works. Plus, it gives you a sense of community with a bunch of other writers.
The Nanowrimo website, http://www.nanowrimo.org, keeps you up to date with a bar graph of your word total and how much you should write in order to hit “par” for that day, or how many words you should be at in order to reach the 50k goal on time.
There are chat boards for writing advice, research questions, plot ideas, chat and just about anything else you can think of. There’s even Pep Talks emailed to you every few days from famous authors. In the past, participants have woken up to encouraging messages from writers like John Green, Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman and Veronica Roth.
Nanowrimo, or Nano for short, also sponsors real-life writing retreats that are planned by region (Connecticut often has a few throughout the month) and you can meet up with other people to write and overload your system in caffeine.
Living off caffeine and chocolate, abandoning your social life, not sleeping and writing until others think you’ve reached insanity are all staples of Nano. It’s crazy, and it takes up an absolutely unreasonable amount of time, but I’d be lying if it isn’t one of the highlights of my year. How many people get to say they wrote an entire 50k novel in a month? The rewarding feeling of crossing that finish line is immense.
If you hit the 50,000 word goal by Nov. 30, you win a variety of prizes that change every year. In the past, winners have gotten huge discounts off of writing programs and even free bound copies of their novel.
This will be my eighth year participating. I’ve won four times. This year, I’m actually not attempting to write the full 50k. I’d rather use the time to finish rewriting and editing the novel I’ve been working on for the past few years instead of starting something new, and a lot of people use it like that. You don’t actually have to write the 50k if you don’t want to. Just write.
Still, though, I’m excited for the journey and will be keeping all of you updated on my progress.
Don’t let the word goal scare you! Just think about it this way: Even if you “fail” Nano, you’ve still accomplished something. So what if you only wrote 10,000 words? That’s still 10,000 more than you had before, and you have the start of something amazing.
So good luck if you choose to participate! Nov. 1 is just around the corner, and it’s time to write. I’ll see y’all at the finish line.
Courtney Gavitt is a Staff Writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.