NaNoWriMo (or Nation Novel Writing Month) is an annual event where people the world over decide to write 50,000 words for some form of literary project in a single month. For those of you that don't know, 50,000 is quite a lot. Most novels are at LEAST that much. My last novel was 80k words. The final papers I had to write for my literature classes in University ranged from 2k to 10k words. Point being, for most people who have full or even part time jobs and can't devote their day to writing, this can be a very daunting task. To reach the goal, one needs to hit about 1700 words per day. I've been aiming for 2000. Some days I get there, some days I don't, some days I go over. I still have a job, and other projects, and I still need time to unwind and just listen to music or read. Still, I've managed to keep up so far, and it's the most consecutive, productive writing I've done since mid-2011.
So, why? Why is this a popular thing, and why have I (and other writer friends) been so gosh-darned productive during this time, when we bemoan things like writer's block and drag our feet the rest of the year?
Well, to put it simply, because other people are doing it, and it's a thing.
There's nothing to stop me from filling in fake numbers every day and uploading an old, already finished manuscript into the verifying software NaNo has on it;s website. But that would be cheating. Worse, it would be cheating at writing, which is such a huge sin, it makes what Adam & Eve did look trivial by comparison. But really, it would be cheating myself.
Writing is, despite what people may say, hard. There is a great satisfaction to be had in completing a written work, even if it's a very messy first draft. NaNo helps with that, giving the writers little tidbits and motivational posts from famous authors like Neil Gaiman, and you can hear success stories from people who turned their NaNo manuscripts into real, traditionally published books and sell them.
It's a lot easier to write when you have a deadline, even if the deadline is self-enforced. If you're a writer, you'll stick to it, because if you don't, you'll feel bad. That sounds a bit silly, but it's true. I was sick all last week, and still had to work. I came home every day wanting nothing else but the embrace of my bed, but I couldn't until I'd pushed out those 2000 words. Knowing that counter was up on NaNo, waiting for me, and knowing that I would feel like a proper bastard if I didn't update it, kept me at the keyboard.
And look, I even managed to update my poor, neglected blog in the midst of the whole thing.
If this is the first you're hearing of NaNo and want to join, it's a bit late now. you'd have to be a real masochist to sign up at this point (and produce more than 5000 words per day. Yikes), but if you're into the idea, I suggest you join up next year. I'm really not a part of the NaNo community, but it's nice just knowing it's there, and that thousands of other crazy folks like you are scattered across the world doing the same thing.
If you wanna check it out, here you go: http://www.nanowrimo.org
Good luck to all the other saps out there, 9 days to go!