November 13, 2013 | 10:09am EST
November is a lazy month for most. Football, turkey-induced naps, and shopping trump any real world obligations. Meanwhile, several hundred thousand others spend the month slumped over a laptop with cup after cup of coffee.
So how do the authors of Water for Elephants, The Night Circus, and Persistence of Memory fit into this equation? They are part of the “Wrimo tribe”: the overcaffeinated, overworked participants of National Novel Writing Month.
This yearly event- NaNoWriMo for short- requires participants to write at least 50,000 words between the first and 30th of November. That averages to about 1,667 words per day. Intense time constraints leave no room for overthinking.
Though it might seem crazy, many complete this challenge. The aforementioned authors are part of over 250 traditionally published NaNoWriMo authors and countless other self-publishers. They joined online at www.nanowrimo.org, where anyone can publicly post their novel information, update their word count, and connect with tons of other writers and resources.
The best part about NaNoWriMo? It’s a 501©(3) nonprofit which works with local communities to empower worldwide creativity. They offer regional workshops, write-ins, and motivational speeches to expand their offline presence. Specialized branches focus on integrating creative writing into educational systems, prisons, juvenile halls, and more.
I am continually impressed by this organization. Admittedly I failed the challenge eight years in a row. But I have gained so much more than the competition I lost. I have learned to not fear deadlines, but use them to move forward faster, to not be intimidated by others’ work, but inspired, and to reach out when I’m stuck. Most importantly, I met unexpected writer friends who support me year-round. I am inspired not only by those involved, but by the premise that personal limitations can be broken by external motivation. I have walked away from this year after year knowing I’m a more confident writer- and confidence is the most effective enemy to employ against creative self-doubt.
What keeps me hooked on NaNoWriMo is the idea that everyone has a story to share. Whether you’re a student, an auto worker, unemployed, an engineer, or a retiree, you can walk away a novelist. NaNoWriMo believes everyone deserves the chance to try. All you have to do is join the tribe and jump in. Who knows where you’ll end up?