For the first time, I’ll be joining thousands of other writers in doing something a little nutty… National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo).

This gamified activity is fairly self-explanatory: participants draft an entire novel in the span of a month. For real. A participant “wins” by writing 50,000 words in the form of a novel by end of the day Nov. 30. This equates to 1,667 words per day. Nutty, indeed. But you, the writer certainly benefits by participating in NaNoWriMo:

  • You commit to putting a hell of a lot of words on paper (electronic, likely).
  • You force yourself to develop habits and structure necessary for writing a novel-length manuscript.
  • You force yourself to be creative, to actually create and cultivate a mindset that entertains new ideas.
  • You get over your own self-doubts of whether or not you have the ability to draft a novel.
  • You end up with a draft of a novel in 30 days.
  • You get a chance to meet other writers through the online and in-person community events and activities organized through NaNoWriMo.

However…

  • You still have to revise whatever you write. This will, at least should, take longer than a month. After all, all writing is rewriting.
  • In your quest to draft so many words, much of what you create may not be salvageable.
  • You’re going to spend a lot of time sitting on your ass, alone, as you draft.
  • You’re wasting your time because you should be reading instead of writing. No one wants to read your shitty novel (oh, wait, that was the opinion of an author/editor in a column published in Salon whom I won’t stoop to link to here because one cannot get more arrogant with that argument).

(Almost) all of these downsides are absolutely relevant, but for me, NaNoWriMo will force me to get over my fear of writing a text of this length and give me a draft to revise beginning next month.

Anyone else participating in NaNoWriMo? Share updates on your progress. I’ll be posting word count updates along the way, along with the stumbling blocks I encounter. I predict that the amount of time spent raking leaves and dealing with all things Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday–sorry, Halloween) will take me away from writing.

Good luck, folks!

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