October 18, 2012

nanowrimo: two-week countdown!!

I cannot believe it is already almost time for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to begin again! For those of you who might be unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo is a writing project in which you commit to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. Thousands and thousands of people sign up on the NaNoWriMo site to commit themselves to this novel project each November.
(Image: NaNoWriMo.org)

My own experiences with NaNoWriMo have been great, and I am really excited to begin again this year. I have completed two NaNoWriMo projects in years past: once unofficially, in July (because I was working in retail at the time and November would have been absolutely masochistic), and last year I participated officially in November. Neither of my projects have resulted in anything ready-to-publish or even close, but each project has been an incredible experience. There is something SO motivating, exhilarating and confidence-building about proving to yourself that you are capable of so much content. Last year, 36, 843 participants accomplished their word count goal within the time limits

Here is the great thing about NaNoWriMo: it is a project that is only for you and for your own good. It is not a project that you ever have to show anyone else, or even re-read yourself. It can be absolutely terrible. It can make NO sense whatsoever. It can go straight into the garbage when you're done, although I recommend hanging onto it for perspective and in case you do end up with content that might inspire future work! You can sign up on the website to participate, but all that means is that you send your final document for a word count check and receive a printable award for "winning" at the end of the project! Where else can you "win" on the sole basis of quantity? This is my kind of competition. 

50,000 words in 30 days means 1667 words per day. My first year, I rounded up to 1700 for easy tracking, and last year I aimed for 2000 words per day in order to help build a cushion for the inevitable day or two when I might not get to the page. Both years, I inevitably fell behind and had to make up 5000 words per day for the last two or three days. But in the end, the win felt SO good!! Each time, I have been amazed to realize that I could actually get so many words down on paper. I believe that this project has greatly helped me to shape my voice as a writer. It has also helped me embrace the emotional roller coaster of my creativity, as I experience some great days and some really tough ones when I sit down to write. Some days my 1700 words took an hour or hour and a half, and some days three hours or more. I completed my first project while I was working full-time, and while it took a lot of discipline and determination, I think I was even more proud of my results. Each project was a layer of strength added to passion for writing. 

This year, my goal is to aim my project more specifically towards the form of a novel I would actually like to publish. I am still figuring this out- not sure if this will take the form of a proper outline or just some more specific parameters. I want to end the project feeling so much closer to submitting my work to publishers. I am sure I will end up sharing much more of this year's NaNoWriMo here on my blog, and I would love to know I have company if any of you are also participating! If you are a writer who has not yet participated, I strongly recommend that you try this year. Sign up today at www.nanowrimo.orgDo not overthink this, just do it! If you fail, you will have gained so much simply from the experience of trying. I do not think I would be able to attempt a more structured project this year if I had not allowed myself to practice twice before with very few parameters.

Have any of you participated in NaNoWriMo before? I would SO love to hear about your experience! Even though I have found my own projects to be a very independent process (i.e. time alone), it has helped a ton to have friends like Chris who have also participated and understand the simultaneous exhilaration and insanity of the experience. (Thanks, Chris!!) Two weeks left and counting!


  1. Hello Cayt!

    Read through Elsie's blog and found your link. Your blog is amazing! Love your writing and photos!

    Good luck on Nanowrimo! :)

    1. Nurul! Thank you so much for the kind words and your well-wishes for my Nanowrimo - going to need it!! xo

  2. I have not participated yet! but have a few friends that have and it seems like a really hard but extremely rewarding challenge. I've participated in a few 30 day painting challenges and it was tough but made my best work :)

    PS I too love the Happiness Project and just got GR's new book.. can't wait to dive in!

    1. Erika! A 30-day painting challenge sounds amazing!! One painting per day?? So inspiring, thank you for sharing. :) Here's hoping we BOTH enjoy her new one - still on my shelf waiting its turn... xo