Hello, hello! It’s already nearing mid-October, which means November is right around the corner. We all know what that means, right? And no, I’m not talking about the election. It means that NaNoWriMo is almost upon us. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s National Novel Writing Month. Every November, a bunch of writers (new and old alike) try to write a short novel (defined by the website as 50,000 words) or a good chunk of a larger novel in order to win prizes and bragging rights.
It’s a pretty interesting concept and their definition of “novel” is incredibly loose. On the website, it says “We define a novel as ‘a lengthy work of fiction.’ Beyond that, we let you decide whether what you’re writing falls under the heading of ‘novel.’ In short: If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel, too.” It pretty much just requires you to write 50,000 words on one project in 30 days. That’s roughly 1,667 words a day. The goal is basically quantity over quality with the belief that it’s more important to get the words on the page, then you can revise and edit everything later to polish it up. And the forum provides a nice community area full of helpful tips and plenty of others who are also procrastinating (why else would you be in the forums?).
I know many people who participate (many of whom often win), but I don’t. I’ve tried in the past and failed miserably. Up until recently, I couldn’t even fathom writing that many words in one day. Even though I’ve done it before, I doubt I could do it more than two days in a row, let alone 30 days. I don’t believe in writing every single day anyway. It becomes a slog if I do that. So, maybe I’ll try NaNoWriMo again in the future, but for now, I will remain a bystander cheering on those who do participate.
Why must we brace ourselves even if we aren’t participating? Because, our friends who are doing it will be posting about larger than average word counts (I know some people are sensitive about this and that’s okay), they’ll bounce back and forth between love and hate for the new novel more often than usual, and they will generally be in a writerly panic throughout the month of November. As bystanders, it’s our job to provide love and support and understanding during this process. It’s also our job to gently remind them to keep on schedule or catch up when they miss a day. We never tell them to quit. If they don’t reach 50,000, we don’t recognize that as a failure, we celebrate the words they did write. This is how we help. We also remind them to eat and sleep and shower if need be. The bystander’s job is an important one.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo or are you going to be a bystander? Any words of advice for newbies on both sides? If you need support and encouragement throughout the month (or want to talk about why your writer seems crazier than usual), don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Until next week!