The National Writing Month is fast approaching, filling writers with excitement and dread (for those who signed up for this grueling challenge). I signed up in 2007 and found the experience both harrowing and revealing at the same time.
The challenge comprises writing 50,000 words in thirty days. This breaks up to almost 1700 words a day. This challenge pushes writers to their limits, to see what stuff they’re made of, to illustrate the importance of setting goals, but more importantly, to write without the inner editor. You write without the inspiration of your muse. You write when you’re feeling like crap. You write through writer’s block and time constraints.
Your actual word count is more of a cut and paste thing into the web site that counts your words. No one actually reads your manuscript, so you won’t embarrass yourself. There’s a certain amount of honesty as well, since you’re really competing against yourself. If you don’t reach the wordcount and ‘cheat’ your way to winning, you’ve really only cheated yourself.
You earn a nifty graphic to add to blogs, emails, web sites, and profiles online. You also get a printable certificate that says you completed the challenge. You also get, of course, the knowledge that you completed the challenge, and gleaned any lessons learned.
Its free to join, and here are a few tips should you consider joining;
- You will need a piece of fiction, not non-fiction (I learned this too late last year so gave up after 10,000 words). Technically you can still do the writing, but I think its important to follow the rules.
- You can plot and plan ahead, but not have anything written before you start on November 1st. In other words, if you’ve already started something, you can’t use that.
- You can follow a daily wordcount, but it might help to make weekly wordcounts instead. This will allow for bad days and good days.
- When writing, ignore spelling and punctuation. You’ll be re-writing anyway, so just get the story to paper.
- Practice writing habits such as writing daily, using writing rituals, setting aside time to write regularly, and asking family and friends to please respect your writing time.
- Don’t freak out if you can’t do the 50,000 words. There’s always next year!