Diva Chat

National Write a Novel Month (NaNoWriMo) is starting in a few days. Are you ready to take the challenge?

A few years ago two of my friends made the commitment to NaNoWriMo, and they asked me to join them. My workload at the time was too heavy, and I had to decline, but I did support them. One friend successfully completed her novel and the other did not. That got me thinking…

I wondered how many people in general never finished their novels compared to those who participated in NaNoWriMo.

According to NaNoWriMo.org, the number of people who participated in 2012 was 341,375. These authors wrote an astonishing 3,288,976,325 words in the month of November. Out of the 341,375 participants, there were 38,438 winners. That’s 11% folks. Now by winner, these are the authors who wrote a minimum of 50,000 words from scratch in the month of November.

So how does this compare to the number people in general who start a novel but never finish? Nobody really knows. But if only 11% of NaNo participants finished (and these are people who are trying to finish), the completion rate for those not participating in NaNo is probably very small. Granted, it takes a lot of dedication to write 50,000 words in a single month. When you factor in work, school, home life, the onset of the holiday season, and stress, that 11% starts to look really good.

So why do people take part in NaNoWriMo? I’m sure the reasons are as many and varied as the participants themselves. Here are  a few off the cuff. (Okay… These are really my reasons. Haha!)

Bragging Rights: For some, just the idea that they can finish a novel, any novel, is a milestone. I can’t tell you how many of my story ideas I never put down on paper. I have several attempted novels that have languished, forgotten in a spiral bound notebook or lost in an obscure file folder three busted laptops ago. So finishing a novel in a month is an accomplishment

Deadline: Others may need a deadline driven environment to motivate. If they don’t have deadline pushing them to finish their novel by a certain date, they can’t find the desire to devote a certain amount of time each day to write. Because let’s face it. We humans are masters at coming up with excuses for why we can’t do this or that. If a deadline helps someone dig deep for the win, use it.

Support Network: NaNoWriMo also has a way for writers to build a support network. The idea is the more people you tell and have cheering you on, the more people you are accountable to if you slack off. Having the support of other writers to work side by side with, commiserate with, and draw inspiration from is vital for many writers.

Social: Making connections with other like-minded people is a huge motivator. While writing can be a lonely business, with the Internet, an author no longer has to feel somewhat isolated in their pursuit. The ways to connect with other writers are endless: writing groups, chat room, forums, grammar sites, writing columns, blogs, social networks, etc. Of course the Internet can also be a great source of distraction, so writers have to learn to tame the urge to surf over writing.

This year I think I’m ready to give NaNoWriMo a try. Why? I’ll be honest… it’s for the bragging rights. I want to know I can actually do it and be able to say I won. Sound competitive? You bet. But this competition is with myself, because that’s my biggest stumbling block. Me.

So for NaNoWriMo 2013, I’m going to jump in with both feet and hope I can make it to the finish line. I already have one buddy. Diva Lauren is joining me. We’re green and excited to see if we have what it takes to win!


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