Janis Jaquith
593 words

A Novel-Writing Marathon for Masochists

I don't have time for this, you know. I have just one month -- one month! -- to come up with a 50,000-word novel. It doesn't have to be good enough, it just has to be long enough.

If I can come up with 1,667 words every day to add to the manuscript, then, in thirty days, voila! A novel!

Five years ago, some guy in California came up with this bizarre idea: a mass writing exercise. People all over the world are taking up the challenge of writing a novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November.

Twenty-two thousand people have signed up this year, including 250 right here in Virginia.

Why, you ask, attempt to write a novel in a mere thirty days? Well, the idea is to just keep typing, so that your inner critic, the one who sneers every time you so much as CONSIDER writing a novel -- the nasty little voice in your head that says, "Who do you think you are?" -- will finally shut up, because you'll be typing so fast, writing the first thing that comes into your head, that the very idea of writer's block will be laughable.

And you know what? This method really works. This is not my first crack at novel writing. I've done it the old-fashioned way, where you take a couple of years, writing a page, polishing it to a fare-thee-well, and slowly moving on to the next page.

The thing is, by the time you finish editing it, you end up having to toss out whole chapters, and all that polishing may have been for nothing. So why NOT blast through that first draft at a hundred miles an hour? Cuz, hey, who really needs to sleep and bathe, anyway? I can do that in December. And the dust that's gathering on my stovetop? That can wait a few more days, too.

Because on December first, I will have a completed first draft to edit at my leisure -- not to mention a swell certificate to download from the National Novel Writing Month website, <>.

You get to do that after you upload your novel to the site, and a word-counting robot verifies that you have, indeed, met or exceeded the 50,000-word finish line. They don't read the novels, or keep them. They just count the words.

I know what you're thinking: Can't people cheat by typing the same word 50,000 times, or just upload something they wrote before November?

Well, sure. But how lame would THAT be? This is not a competition; it's a writing exercise.

You would be amazed at the wonderful writing that can practically fall out of your brain, through your fingers, and onto your screen when you just keep typing. By typing fast enough, you outrun that inner critic until you can't even hear him anymore.

Plus, through NaNoWriMo, you get to moan and brag about your novel to other "WriMos," as we're known, through the online forum, or by meeting up with like-minded masochistic maniacs who live near you.

Now, I'd love to stick around and tell you more about this, but I'm way behind on my word-count for today, and I am SO close to the finish line.

I gotta go.

Copyright ©2023, Janis Jaquith. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited.