As the second week of November begins, roughly 15,000 words will have been written. At least, that is what the benchmark is.
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a yearly writing challenge administered across the Internet. The challenge itself is simple: write a 50,000-word novel through the month of November and you "win." There are no official prizes for the challenge; instead, anyone who reaches 50,000 words is declared a winner, and after the 25th, can submit their novel to be verified for its length, and in turn receive a certificate, and are added to the list of winners for the year.
I myself am currently partaking in this year's challenge, and while I don’t expect to reach the 50,000-word mark by the end of the month, I do expect that it will deliver unto me the kick and motivation that I’ve so desperately required. And it’s this concept that I enjoy in challenges. Even those who don’t make it to the 50k-word count by the end of the month have won in their own way. They’ve taken the time to sit down and write, to pursue their passions, and learn from any mistakes they might make. And perhaps, these aspiring authors might one day go and take the fruits of their labor to be published. After all, what else would one do with the fruits of their labor?
Besides the personal challenge aspect of it all, there is a strong community behind everything else. Optional "write-ins" take place where anyone within a certain area can come out to a location and meet other writers, and not only meet with them, but also talk to and get some support in their own challenge. And this is what one must understand; NaNoWriMo isn’t a challenge where there is any one winner. It’s a challenge where everyone wins even if they don’t finish their novel on time.
The write-ins not only give a sense of community, but also in that new friends and connections can be made and help can be rendered between multiple people as to what angles they should try to follow in their stories, or simply motivate and encourage them to continue writing.
And therein lies the greatest irony of all, the hardest part of the writing challenge, is doing the actual writing, especially when you consider that an average of 1,667 words should be written per day. A writer's greatest critic is themselves, and it reflects even in the process of writing. I routinely question my creative choices, and even question why I’m partaking in the challenge to begin with. Yet motivation comes and goes, and determination to continue wanes with every day, but perseverance is key. The only way to "lose" is to give up writing, and if you have a very loose definition of winning, you can "win" NaNoWriMo simply by giving your all and doing what you can. Donate if you have the money to spare. But, the core of it all revolves around challenging yourself and writing.
Two weeks in, and two weeks left, NaNoWriMo soldiers on, as do the thousands of writers who work away throughout the months, in perhaps one of the most exhausting and exciting adventures a writer can undertake.