After years of considering it, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this past November. NaNoWriMo is an enormous challenge for most writers: 50,000 words in thirty days; an average of 1,666 per day. Those who complete the challenge can upload their text and collect a coveted “NaNoWriMo WINNER” certificate.
I went into the month with great optimism. I had a novel I’d been working on for a while, and this seemed like a great time to set a goal to finish it. I sketched out a rough outline. I let others know my plan. I went to a local library for a meeting of like-minded writers. I worked really hard. I let the housework go. I stayed up late at night.
But alas, I did not write 50,000 words during the month of November. I did not finish my novel-in-progress. I did not achieve “winner” status. I could make a list of my reasons/excuses for not reaching the 50,000 word goal, but what’s the point of that, really? Instead of focusing on my failure, I prefer to think of all I accomplished in that month:
- I more than doubled the total word count of the novel
- I did lots of brainstorming and finally discovered the central problem my main character must solve
- I kept persevering, even long after I knew I would not achieve winner status
- I learned a lot about myself as a writer, including the revelation that “inspiration” comes when I am actively engaged in the writing, not before
My actual word count at the end of the month was just over 25,000. That translates to about a hundred pages that I added to the novel. I’m calling that a “Half NaNo,” and I’m really quite proud of it.
So what now? We’re headed into a new year, and this is traditionally a time when many people make new goals. As a result of my work on NaNoWriMo, I think I’ve even figured out how this book will end. I’m eager to set a new goal and power through to the end of it. I think I can do it in a month.
Anyone out there want to join me for JanNoWriMo?