NaNoWriMo is upon us! For non-writers out there, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is, of course, the month of November. The point is to set a daily writing goal, and complete 50,000 words over the course of a month (you can find the official website here).
I have a confession to make. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo. I first heard about it a couple of years ago, and I really wanted to do it, but at the time I was working a lot and honestly didn’t believe I would be able to put in the time necessary. I wasn’t writing consistently at the time, and the daily goal of about 1,600 words seemed impossible.
Some days that daily goal still seems impossible. There are some days I don’t write at all. Some days I try, and only manage to eek out 1,000 words or less. Even on my best days, I’m lucky to hit 2,000 words. So each year I think about it, but I never really have the desire to sign up.
NaNoWriMo is somewhat disputed in the writing community. I’ve heard arguments on both sides of the issue. On the pro side, the challenge helps writers by giving them a static goal, allowing them to track their progress, and to focus simply on getting words onto a page. They don’t have to be the best words, and editing is discouraged. The sole goal is to just throw them out there and see how far you can get. Some writers may need that, that motivation to just write and not re-think everything.
On the con side, the challenge makes writing a forced activity. The idea of having to meet a specific word goal puts too much pressure on the writer to write those words and doesn’t allow the story to flow the way it is supposed to. The challenge is marketed as “Write a novel in a month!”. But 50,000 words is only 50-75% of a novel, if that, depending on your genre and target audience. So, even if you complete the challenge, you still haven’t written an entire novel. Another con is the quality of the writing. If your sole goal is put words on a page, then you’re not putting them there in the best way possible. Even if you finish, your story will still require significant editing and rewriting to really shine.
Both sides have merit. I’m not taking either one. I don’t feel drawn to do it, and I’m not passing judgment on those who do. But I do love what it represents. Check out the following statistics from wikiwrimo: in 1999, the challenge only had 21 participants. Fast forward to 2016, and there were 384,126 participants! That’s 384,126 people who made a decision to take their writing to the next level, who made a commitment, who tried. And that’s inspiring.
Talk to me in the comments. Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? What are your thoughts?