Why would anyone write 50,000 words in one month?

November is National Novel Writing Month, known by most writers as NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short. The aim of thousands of writers from all over the world is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. And you can win… nothing. Well OK, there is a nifty certificate you can print out if you get to 50K, and your progress bar turns from green to purple, and a few sponsors give price reductions on some of their products, but that’s all. No extra exposure in multi-million reader news, no guarantees publishing contract, not even a boost of readers for your novels. So why would any writer take part?

The answer is simple. Writing a novel takes a lot of time on the keyboard (yes, even starving authors like us are no longer using type-writers), and most of this time, the author spends alone. During NaNo, writing becomes fun. In the forums, non-bloody word-wars break out (writing as many words in a set amount of time as possible), twitter is overflowing with support from people I’ve never met, bloggers blog about their experiences with NaNo, and there’s an all round feeling of accomplishment in the air. It’s exhilarating and (at least for me) addictive. I took part for the 6th time this year, and I’m marvelling at how nicely my newest project is growing.

At the end of the month, I will be the proud creator of a nearly finished, still-to-be-revised novel about a young girl in Stone Age Africa who has to wake the rain goddess before the heat daemon destroys the earth. And I’m soooooo looking forward to that. Also, I will have got to know many new, interesting people. That alone is worth every second I spent on NaNo. Are you a writer? Then, try for yourself next year. Are you a reader? head over to the NaNoWriMo website and browse a few projects. It’s so much fun seeing creativity at work.


About Cat-Gerlach

I am an author and a triple mum. I am living in Northern Germany with my family and my dog.

Posted on November 20, 2012, in or browse all books. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Cat, great entry. Full disclosure, everyone, I am NOT participating in NaNo and my next time will be the first.

    I also want to say that Cat has taught me about productivity. I THOUGHT I was a productive chronicler, but I am not close to her totals. And I think I have MUCH more background material, actually, so it’s even more embarrassing. But her output- with good quality mind you- is just staggering. So her word about what motivates a writer is well worth paying attention to.

    There is indeed something very energizing about having a sense of folks watching over your work. I have always been the pampered artiste (note the “e”)- I would stomp my little foot and claim “you can’t force genius”. Months go by and I’m still thinking about the plot. But give me a deadline and suddenly I find I can write actual words! Having beta-readers who agreed ahead of time to look at chapters, meant I could write the chapters- simple as that.

    And if I gave myself a deadline… “The Plane of Dreams is coming out Labor Day weekend”- wow, all the barriers just melted. So it’s been a learning experience for me. Writing is an activity, it’s a thing you do- and Cat is a great example of how to get your head straight and just do it. All the best!

  2. NaNo is a fabulous event to experience for all the reasons Cat mentioned, plus one Will alluded to…challenge! I’m a competitive soul. Give me a challenge, tell me someone expects something of me, and I’ll move heaven and earth to meet, nay EXCEED that expectation!

    While I’m not doing NaNo this month, I’ve done it 5 times, and won all but one of them (that project stalled early on and I’ve never managed to get it going again). All four of the winning projects have been published, and one won me a prestigious NY agent! (Mind you, nothing ever came of that partnership, but that’s another story.) So NaNo has been a very productive process for me.

    I know it doesn’t work for everyone (I have friends who just wither and die with the stress), but it’s a great experience. If you’ve never tried it, plan on it next year. Love it or hate it, you’ll discover something about yourself as a writer, and knowledge is power!

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