National Novel Writing Month—November. The month during which you see a barrage of daily word count status updates across social media channels from all of your writing friends. A time of high productivity, high expectations, and all-too-often, great depressive let-downs if they fail their goal of 50,000 words in 30 days.
The point? To kickstart the writing of the next “Great American Novel.” Challengers sign up to accomplish the ultimate goal of getting their novel started—to get it all on paper in a month. As part of the festivities, you get a word count score-keeper, motivation and encouragement from others, and if you win (there are multiple thousands of winners every year,) you get a little badge to put on your website that proclaims you as a winner for that year. (You can learn more here.)
Does it truly mean anything? Yes and no. For a motivational kick in the ass, yes, NaNoWriMo…Nano (for short) is a great way to meet other writers, set a goal for yourself, and muscle your way through the first step of the novel-writing process. As for getting published, anyone with a little experience will tell you that it is largely a facade. Yeah, you wrote 50,000 words—maybe even more—but those 50k aren’t going to make it on a bookshelf anytime soon, if at all. The first part of the editing and revision process alone will tear your darling down to probably 10-20,000 before all is said and done. You’ll do several of those, by the way, before you are ready to actually look for an agent. Then again if you want to self-publish, rolling with what you’ve got and doing it the easy way? You’re done, really. Just don’t expect to sell many copies.
It isn’t all bad
Don’t get me wrong, I do think that Nano is a great tool. As of this morning, so do almost 267.5 thousand other writers. Nothing to snub your nose at, but I think that many people go into it thinking that this is the hard part and once December comes, they will be a bestselling author. Not gonna happen, folks.
Different people have different motivations. For some, a high-stress challenge that so many others are participating in is exactly what they need to get motivated. For others, it is a grueling, year(s) long process of writing and editing before a book appears before them. For others yet, writing short stories or doing prompts is the way to go to get a story formulated and worked through. To each her own. I say do what you need to do—just do it.
So, while a quarter-million-plus other people are off banging away at their keyboards and ignoring the world, what are you fellow “Nah, No Thank You’s” doing for the rest of November and beyond? Why not write with us? We recently started offering prompted link-ups where, weekly, we will give you a few prompts in fiction, memoir, or even non-fiction to write a story to. After you write your short story during the day or week, you come back to our weekly link-up section and post a link and little pic from your blog. People then visit from the link-up and leave you a comment or share your story. With the #DadsRT hashtag (now available for use through almost all social sites) you can discuss writing, meet new folks, and do it all without an enormous word count looming over your head!
Sounds like a good pace for me!
Think it over. I think you’ll find that The Forest, by Dads Round Table is a pretty sweet place to hang your writing hat.