Every November, the National Novel Writing Month website charges writers to write 50,000 words in one month. It starts at 12:01am, November 1st, and ends at 12:00am, November 30th. Once you’ve finished, you upload your novel to their website, where they run a script to check your word count, then issue a PDF winner’s certificate and web badge. They do not check content, just word count.
There are a lot of people on both sides of the spectrum for this exercise. Some people balk at the idea of churning out so much so quickly, because the quality of the writing could suffer. Some people find it exhilarating to turn off their inner editor and crank out whatever pops into their heads. A lot of people ask “is this something I should do?”
My answer? It depends. :) I know, very non-committal.
Personally, this is something I'd never be able to do. At least, not the way everyone else does it. I can write quickly, but my writing doesn’t thrive under these circumstances. I *know* that if I churn out 50,000 words in a month, without editing as I go, it’s going to be terrible. And I’ll likely have to rewrite the majority of it - I'd rather start over then overhaul a manuscript like this. Because I already know this, I’ll have no motivation to finish it. So I'd have to do it differently.
50,000 words in thirty days breaks down to 1667 words per day. Except I can't work weekends, and there are five weekends (totaling ten days) during the month of November. That means I'd have to get all my writing done in twenty days, which is 2500 words per day. I could probably do that...but then, there's my writing process to consider.
When I write, I don’t think about word count. I think about the story, have a “road map” in mind, and let the word count emerge on its own. If I was targeting a specific word count, my story would suffer. And that’s like sticking a knife in my heart and twisting... Also, when I'm writing a new story, I have to have the beginning absolutely perfect before I can move on to the rest. In my head, everything comes out of the beginning. So, if it isn't right, then my story is heading in the wrong direction. So I spend a lot of time on my beginning, rewriting a zillion times. But, once I've got it settled, the rest of the story quickly falls into place.
So, if I participated in NANO, I'd have to set myself a 2500 word count per day, but not be concerned with the cumulative word count. I may or may not finish by the end of the month, but I suspect writing with so many "buddies" would be so much fun that I wouldn't mind not getting the cool web badge to put on my website. :)
There are others who absolutely love NANO just the way it is. Some need this kind of permission to turn off the inner editor. Some just want to see if they can write so much in such a short time span. Some may be exploring their own writing process. And some just find it fun. Originally, I'd decided not do NANO. But now I'm thinking it might be fun, so I signed up. And who cares if I "win?" :)
So, if NANO is something you’re considering but you don’t know whether or not to do it, ask yourself this: what do you want to get out of it? A completed novel? The chance to explore an idea with no rules limiting you? A test to see if you can write 50,000 words in a month? That cool web badge? Whatever the reason, if you think you’ll get something out of it, then go for it! If you don't think you'll get anything out of it, well... :)
A big reason I'm doing this is for the comraderie, and I'd love to be your writing buddy. Drop me a line or look me up if you like. My Nano ID is 'tabwriter.'