In a few days time about half a million people from around the world are expected to participate in NaNoWriMo, an annual challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. That’s an average of 1,667 words a day.
I first attempted NaNoWriMo in 2008. I’d been trying to write a novel for a while, but like many struggling writers I know I kept getting ‘better ideas’ and abandoning projects. I think I told just about everyone that I was doing NaNoWriMo, which meant that people kept checking up on how I was doing. I’m a competitive chap, and I knew that I’d find it awkward having to say, ‘Actually, it’s not going so well…’ so I wrote my 50,000 words.
The result was definitely not my best piece of writing. It’s a cliché-driven tale of a peasant saving a princess from an invading horde, and much of it was completely improvised. But more importantly, I learnt a lot from the experience, and I discovered what it took to write a whole novel. It’s important to say that not all NaNoWriMo novels are bad. Plenty of people plan through October to make sure they have some idea of what they’re writing, as I did in later years, and over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. Each year I’ve noticed significant improvements in my writing, and this year I’m not participating because I’m busy editing Two Branches, which I might never had finished had it not been for NaNoWriMo.
I recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re trying to get more writing experience. It really can give you that extra push you need to get through. Tell everyone you’re doing it, stock up on snacks and hot chocolate, and get writing this November.