Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Are These Writers Nuts?

Here’s the challenge: write a 50,000 word novel during November. That’s 1,667 words a day, every day, for thirty days. Don’t bother to edit now, just write. Who would take on this wild challenge? I have an excuse (I am currently in the advanced editing stages of an already written novel), but some 250,000 writers from all over the world are hitting their keyboards furiously every day this month. Some of them are published authors. Are they crazy?

Welcome to November, designated as the National Novel Writing Month. That’s NaNoWriMo for short, NaNo for even shorter…
According to the NaNo website, some 250,000 writers around the world are expected to pledge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. “There are no judges, no prizes, and entries are deleted from the server before anyone reads them.” So, what’s the point?

“The 50,000 word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creativity,” says NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty. “When you write for quantity, instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it’s a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month.”

According to the site, more than 90 novels begun during the annual November promotion have since been published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, a New York Times #1 best seller.

This year, some of the writers started their NaNo project precisely at the stroke of midnight, November 1. Others hope for a fortuitous start if they begin writing at exactly 11:11 on November 11th. But by then, some of their fellow writers will have already written more than 16,000 words.

Maggie from Maggie Madly Writing says that she plans to “write precisely 1,667 words a day – sometimes a little more. On days when I know I’m not going to be around the computer, I’ll write two days’ worth of words in one day.”

Kim Wright, author of Love in Mid Air, which I previously reviewed, says that this is her first year for NaNo. “As a longtime writer, I’ve been vaguely familiar with the concept for years but I have the sense that it’s growing as a movement, building towards some sort of critical mass.”

Jeff, the self-described Doubting Writer, says he must be “nuts” to join the NaNo craze. “Whether I produce anything of value is an entirely different question.”

If you’re an aspiring writer, should you attempt NaNo this year? Here are 5 reasons to do it. As for advice how to get through the month, check out these NaNo Rules that Lead to Progress.

Good luck to all you NaNo writers! As I edit my previously written manuscript I'll be thinking of you. Let me know how you did when December comes around.


  1. I think NaNoWriMo is a great idea Ellis in terms of giving a kick up the behind to everybody who wants to write a novel but never got the motivation. So long as those participating are aware that this is a first draft... I really hope that people don't think this is all that needs doing in terms of writing a book.

    I did consider doing it myself this month for my second novel but seeing as my first is undergoing major surgery in its fourth draft I felt better to focus my efforts. On that note however, this is a BIG ask of people. Great if you're single but if you've family commitments then you need one hell of a supportive bunch around you!

  2. Hey, thanks for the link, Ellis.

    It's definitely not for everyone--heck, it may not even be something I can complete this year--but it was exactly what I needed last year to get me started.

  3. But all writers are nuts! Haha, thanks for the shout out!

  4. NaNoWriMo seems a lot to me like running a marathon to get in shape or dieting to move on to a healthier overall well for some and not for others. It's a lofty commitment regardless!

  5. I decided to try it for the discipline of writing every single day. So far I am enjoying it and hopefully in the end I will have the bare bones of something I can work on.

  6. I was challenged by a friend to do NaNoWriMo two years ago and we both succeeded in getting not only our 50K words, but solid drafts of novels which we are still working on. I've just finished at just under 200K words, but am now into heavy revisions which means quite a bit of slashing. It was an interesting experience because I'm a compulsive reviser and it makes for little or no progress. Additionally, I tend to write creative nonfiction, so fiction was always a mystery to me. No longer!