Did You Join NaNoWriMo?

Did you join last month’s NaNoWriMo? If yes, how far did you go with your novel?

For those of you who haven’t heard of it yet, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual, Internet-based event in which wannabe authors from all walks of life pound on their keyboards for the whole of November to come up with a 50,000-word manuscript for a novel. If you do the math, participating in NaNoWriMo means putting at least 1,667 words a day into your novel for 30 days.

Producing nearly 1,700 words a day sounds like a simple thing to do. But it’s really harder than it seems, even when you’re someone who writes for a living. In fact, coming up with around 1,700 words for a novel daily is a lot more difficult if you’re a wordsmith for hire.

A friend named Rebecca once told me that when you work with words all day for your daily bread, it can be tiresome to deal with more words on your off time, not even when you love writing and are truly dedicated to your craft. Rebecca would know. She’s a published author and she worked in the copywriting business for years.

For me, what Rebecca said holds true. I can easily write 2,000 to 3,000 words a day for my clients. And November is one of the busiest months in my freelance writing calendar. After I’m done with the day’s deadlines, I would rather watch TV or a movie on DVD, or play Torchlight or World of Warcraft or some Facebook game rather than write 1,700 words more for a novel.

Pushing oneself to create 50,000 words for a novel in the space of a month is good for some people. This level of pressure tends to bring out the genius in some writers. Unfortunately, I don’t belong to that group. I only cough up crappy work when I am under pressure.

I agree in part with Patrice Sarath when she said 250 words a day is enough. To quote from her blog:

“250 words a day gives you room to do research. It gives you time to read the authors you love so you can look at how they line words up and get to the root of what you love about their work. 250 words a day will give you breathing room and let your writing improve.”

Unlike Ms. Sarath, though, I don’t have any gripes against NaNoWriMo. In a way, it is a good thing. If November weren’t one of my busiest months, I would gladly sign up for it. Besides, NaNoWriMo does serve its purpose, which is to get wannabe novelists off their butts and write their masterpieces instead of just talking about them, without any fear of criticism, whether self-inflicted or otherwise. It’s just that NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. And for this year, it’s not for me.

(Image: mpclemens/Flickr Creative Commons)


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Anna Sibal-Gonzaga is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She likes reading books and watching movies and TV shows in the sci-fi, fantasy and historical genres. She is also a casual gamer and an all-around nerd.

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