Winning NaNoWriMo


posted by on Writing


November is here again—the month of Thanksgiving in the United States and National Novel Writing Month just about everywhere. In case you haven’t heard, NaNoWriMo is a glorious exercise in biting off a big project and running with it. If you choose to participate, you register on the website,, and begin a wild ride, attempting to write a 50,000-word draft of a novel in the thirty days of November. If you complete the task (it doesn’t have to be good, not even coherent, just 50,000 words—that’s 1667 a day) you win. That means you get a certificate acknowledging that you completed this enormous task.

There are plenty of things to like about NaNoWriMo, not the least of which is the joie de vivre with which participants dive into the project. But one of the things I like most is the part about winning. Winning NaNoWriMo is not a zero-sum game. No one has to lose for you to win. You are competing only with yourself, or rather with the goals you’ve set for yourself. Everyone (who wants to) jumps in and goes for it, aiming for the finish line and encouraging one another along the way.

I’ve never officially participated in NaNoWriMo, but I always get caught up in the excitement of it all. (Some people NaNo every year. Apparently I blog about NaNo. Well, it’s a start.) I usually set myself some kind of goal, or at least some kind of plan to have a go at something that I might not have attempted without the encouragement and excitement of all these people around me joyously pounding out their novels.

The timing of NaNo is particularly challenging. During November it is very hard for me to think about anything other than food. But having NaNo in November, with Halloween just past and Thanksgiving coming up, makes the whole event even more festive. It’s like a special holiday just for people who are crazy enough to write books.

So if you are taking part this year, I wish you the best of luck. I hope you win. I hope we all win!


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