Here’s one that’s been around for a while, but I only heard about it this week: NaNoWriMo. What is it? NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, of course, but it’s already over. Every November 1st since 1999, a bunch of well-intentioned would-be writers give themselves 30 days to write a 50,000 word minimum (around 175 page) novel. I hear you saying “Word count!? That’s all there is to it? Just come up with 50,000 words and you’re a winner?” Well, yes, that IS all there is to it, but then again, it’s not like you win a big cash prize. What you win is a purple “WINNER” label next to your name and the warm glow of satisfaction. But people take it pretty seriously all the same, and the results are posted online. Wanna read some novels? Here are several hundred to choose from.
I was impressed with the guidelines for the site. Do you think bad prose will be the result of a 50,000 word forced march? So do they:
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly. Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
If your end result is too dreadful to contemplate, perhaps you should sign up for (wait for it) … NaNoEdMo: National Novel Editing Month.