For anyone who’s not familiar, NaNoWriMo, often abbreviated to NaNo, stands for National Novel Writing Month. According to the organization’s website, “National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.”

The last time I participated was in 2007 but I didn’t make it to 50,000. The last time I “won” was in 2006. Each time I’ve participated, I’ve had a blast and gotten a lot done. There’s something about watching the progress graph climb that helps to motivate me.

I’ve heard people criticize NaNo for a number of reasons. It is true that a lot of people don’t get anywhere close to the 50,000 word mark. Personally, I think it’s great that people who talk about wanting to write a book someday actually give it a try. If they learn that writing isn’t really their thing, that’s fine. They can go on to other endeavors. If they learn to respect the hard work that authors put into writing, that’s a good thing too.

The other complaint I’ve heard is that NaNo produces a lot of dreck. True, but I still say no problem. For writers like me, it’s a good way to start a rough draft, to get to know my characters and get a clearer idea of their journey. I wouldn’t think of inflicting my rough drafts on my critique partners, let alone the reading public. A lot of rewriting and editing happen before I put anything out there.

Will some participants go ahead and self-publish their not-ready or even may-never-be-ready drafts? Probably. No big deal. It seems to me that the search algorithms at online bookstores won’t put those titles near the top of the list and bury more carefully written and edited books.

Anyway, I wish everyone a successful and fun NaNo.  I’m not participating this year because I’m on the 4th draft of the balloonist story and need to focus on that. However, I’m setting myself the personal challenge of having this draft ready for critique by the end of the month. If others can write 50,000 words of rough draft in this time, maybe I can manage 15-20,000 of somewhat more polished work. Here’s my Storytoolz progress bar. Wish me luck!

Click to view daily statistics

What challenges have you set yourself recently?