So, it’s November again. And while most folks instantly think of Thanksgiving and beginning their Christmas shopping, for me, November is significant because of NaNoWriMo. In case you’ve never heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel, beginning at 12:00am November 1 and ending at 11:59pm on November 30.
Some may ask, is 50,000 words really how long a novel is? Well, yes and no. There are some really good stories that are just over 50,000 words. But for a lot of people, when they hit that 50,000 word mark, they’re not finished with their story, and that’s totally fine. But they have a darn good start.
I signed into my NaNoWriMo account today and decided I needed to update my info. I first joined back in 2003, under a different account with a pretty fandom-related email address, which shall remain nameless and buried henceforth. Ahem. I remember plotting my novel during an episode of Smallville. It was Season 3, episode 3, the one where Clark gets shot with a Kryptonite bullet. Yes, I remember that, and no, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday morning. My mind is a scary, scary place.
Anyway, you can plot, plan, outline, character sketch, whatever to your heart’s content *before* November 1, but you can’t actually make the words until then. Is this tracked? Not at all. It’s all on the honor system.
At the end of the month, or earlier, if you hit 50,000 words sooner, you upload your document into NaNo’s fancy schmancy word counter to be validated. Again, this is on the honor system. You could have the same word repeating 50,000 times, and the word counter would tell you you’ve won. But where’s the fun in that?
The fun, the stress, the sleepless nights, caffeine and sugar induced frenzies and hard crashes comes from trying to get in your 1667 words a day to meet that goal. I swear, that number will haunt me forever. I’ll be old and gray, rocking back and forth in a corner every November muttering One Six Six Seven. One Six Six Seven!!
Last year I couldn’t get into my old account, so I created a new one. This time, out of some miraculous moment of DUH, I was able to get into my old account, and I pulled all my stats from that one and updated my new one. I saw that I’ve participated every year since 2003, except for 2011, and I’ve “won” 4 times. There were a couple of years I came in far behind, 25,000 words or less, but I still gave it a shot. I think I completely missed the month of November in 2011, because I was chasing after a 14 month old.
I buy the merch, (oh the merch!) because it looks cool, and I’m a nerd like that. I’ve got my sweatshirt, coffee mug, tumbler, book, stickers, pens, etc. I alternate between writing out my pages by hand and typing on my laptop, but at the end, all of the words need to be in a document to be uploaded for validation.
I’ve signed up this year, but I’m breaking the rules a bit. I already have 36,000 words of a novel written. Granted, they’re probably all crap, but I want another 50,000 to complete the story. I want to see if I can do it. I don’t need to be validated, but knowing there are thousands of others out there doing the same thing gives me that little extra kick in the pants I need to stay motivated and on track.
So…here we go!!