This is the time of year when hundreds of thousands of writers around the world, including me, get antsy. Stories flit through our heads, a few characters decide to burrow in and stay a while, and we can’t wait for November 1st to start writing.
NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month, is a time when hundreds of thousands of writers around the world get crazy and try to write 50,000 words during the month of November. We even manage to go to work, school, holiday gatherings, and sometimes even make a few dinners for our families!
1,667 words a day, every day, or catch up on weekends. If, like me, you take Sundays and Thanksgiving off, it jumps to 2,000 a day. Why drive ourselves like this? Jaime Raintree put her thoughts into a brilliant post over on Writers in the Storm, and she not only ticked all my boxes but graciously gave permission for me to share them here. Here’s Jaime:
A WRIMO FOR LIFE
It never fails–every year, when the temperature starts to drop, my subconscious knows that NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. I start setting my affairs in order for the month that I will be more or less dead to everyone who isn’t doing word sprints with me.
It’s not as easy as it once was to commit to NaNoWriMo, now that my schedule is not my own. I did have to skip 2014 because I was in the middle of edits on Perfectly Undone for my agent, and seeing everyone else letting loose with their novels while I sat woefully on the sidelines just about killed me. It convinced me that as much as it was in my power, I wouldn’t skip it again.
My passion for NaNoWriMo may seem a little disproportionate for an online challenge where you win basically nothing for hitting your goal (except, of course, 50,000 words on your work-in-progress and some nice writerly coupons), but here are just a few reasons why I’m a committed Wrimo…
I cannot stress this aspect enough. People who have never participated in NaNoWriMo think that the challenge is about hitting a certain word count. It’s not.
What NaNoWriMo is really about is the energy of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world chasing the same goal together. The NaNo forums are abuzz with excitement and caffeine 24/7. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chatted with other Wrimos well past midnight, cheering each other on to hit our word count goal for the day. I’ve even met some of my best friends at Write-In events.
There’s simply no way to describe the electricity you feel of being so deeply tapped into the writing community. You have to experience it for yourself.
2. SERIOUS PROGRESS.
While community is the best part of NaNo, those high word counts are still priceless. It never ceases to amaze me when I look at my stats and see numbers like 15,467, or 25,008, or 42,124. In a matter of weeks! I know I’m capable of producing these kinds of word counts any other month of the year, but without the energy of NaNo, it’s much harder for me. I love stepping back at the end of the month and realizing that I have an almost complete draft. It may need a lot of work, but I know so much more about my characters and my story once I’ve completed the challenge that all the future revising is worth it.
Whether you hit 50,000 words or 10,000 words, the motivation produced by NaNoWriMo will have you impressing even yourself. You’ll accomplish writing feats you never thought possible.
3. TOTAL STORY IMMERSION.
Now that I have two kids in school, articles to write, workshops to plan, and deadlines to hit, it has never been harder to tap into my story. I get a solid 1-2 hours of writing in every weekday, but as soon as I close my computer, my mind is back on my to-do list and I’m off racing to the next thing. Yes, the book gets written, but I don’t as often get to experience that thrill of the days when I would be unable to fall asleep because my characters had something to say, or I’d wake up with a plot issue resolved and I’d jump out of bed to write it down. My mind is simply spread too thin. During November, though, I set aside as many of my other responsibilities as possible (unfortunately, the kids still have to eat), and I eat, sleep, and breathe my characters.
That kind of connection to story is what we writers live for. But how often do you feel that immersed on a day to day basis?
4. THE HIGH OF CHASING (AND HITTING) A SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE GOAL.
Sitting down on November 1st and staring a 50,000 word goal in the face feels impossible. No matter how many times I do it, it overwhelms me every year. It’s like running a marathon–who actually does crazy things like that? Well, we do. Just writing a book is a crazy, impossible thing and yet, we do it over and over again. Because there’s nothing quite like the high of an amazing writing day, and NaNoWriMo is a month full of days like that. Crossing the finish line, tired and delirious with effort, is a feeling like no other. Because you know you did something most people aren’t brave enough to even attempt.
And celebrating with your NaNo community afterward makes the win that much sweeter.
The camaraderie of a group, the push to write and keep writing, the sense of accomplishment – oh yeah! I’m disappointed when I’m in the middle of edits or travels or something that keeps me from participating. This year, I’m in again!
Oh, and the book edits that kept Jaime out of NaNo in 2014? That’s her debut novel, and it started as a NaNo project! Also, if you’re a writer who likes watching your word count graph grow, check out Jamie’s Writing and Revision Tracker on her blog.
Are you a writer with NaNo stories to tell? Do you have a dream of writing a novel and you’re considering taking the plunge? Share with us in the comments! Oh, and my NaNo name is JenJensen, if you’d like to add me as a Buddy.