By Eric DiGiovanni
National Novel Writing Month is an annual challenge to produce a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. It’s frantic, nerve-wracking, and chances are your final product won’t be the next Catcher in the Rye or Ulysses to hit the bookstands.
But that doesn’t matter. NaNoWriMo is about motivation, not quality. How many people have you met who’ve said, “Yeah, I’m working on a novel.” Everyone acts impressed and they feel better because they’re so creative and smart and can leave their job at Starbucks anytime. Then they can live out their dream of being a famous writer and have white people tell them how awesome they are. NaNoWriMo kicks those pretentious douchebags in the balls (or ovaries) and says, “You want be a writer? Then do it!”
Let’s look at why it works. First off, it gives a definitive deadline: midnight, November 30th. Even the laziest of us can obey a deadline for a paper for class. “30 days?” you say, burning your barista apron, “I’ve done 10-page papers in one night!” Sure, but that’s when you have the convenience of copy-pasting from Wikipedia. You have to come up with 50,000 of your own words, for a story you make up.
Second, it establishes a daily habit of writing, or at the very least making your time productive. For the math inhibited, to meet the deadline, you’d need to type 1667 words a day. Finally, it encourages enthusiasm for something of your own creation. Only suckers get psyched for school papers. You get a grade, that’s it. No one ever speaks of that time you wrote a five-page paper telling exactly one person what string theory is. With your novel, you can share it with anyone and everyone, and actually have a reason to take pride in it.
50,000 words. 30 days. 1 novel. Can you do the write thing?
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