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I'm not going to 'Win' Nano - here's why I'm doing it anyway!

One 'losers' thoughts on NanoWrimo.

By Kate OwenPublished 7 months ago 3 min read
I'm not going to 'Win' Nano - here's why I'm doing it anyway!
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

It sound too good to be true doesn't it? A month where you and thousands of other aspiring writers form a community and write 50,000 words. By the end of November you can sit back and admire the first draft of a new book! For the uninitiated; this is NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. An annual event hosted throughout November in which writers are invited to sign up to the Nano website and attempt to write 50,000 words before the end of the month.

Originally set up in 1999 by Chris Baty with a small group of 21 writers in San Francisco; the community around Nano has blossomed! In 2022 more than 400,000 people participated. It is free to join and the only rules are that your project must be new, it must be written by one person and you must complete the 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th November. That's it - that's how you win!

I first heard about Nano over a decade a go. Whilst I loved creating stories; novels weren't my vehicle of choice. At 21 I was more focused on short film and web series; and that just didn't seem to fit with Nano. So I spent a decade building my career within the media and climbing the ladder. But the higher up I climbed; the further I seemed to drift away from my original goal - to tell stories. This year, the thought of NaNoWriMo re-entered my mind.

But I never had an idea for a Novel, I didn't know how to structure a book, I didn't think I was clever enough to write one. A perfectionist from birth, I have never started something I didn't have a reasonable belief I would succeed in. All you need to do is write 1667 words per day, every day and you will have a first draft of a new exciting book. It sounds so simple.

But as soon as you start to speak to people about Nano, you realise it's not that simple at all! Last year just over 50,000 people won Nano - so a success rate of approximately 12.5%. And whilst 1667 words per day doesn't sound much; if you miss a day you suddenly have over 3200 words to write, and so on and so on. And even with the best will in the world, even with a perfectly structured plan for your novel, you're going to hit road blocks.

My family mantra is 'If a job's worth doing it's worth doing well' so if I can't do something well - I don't do it. But life has taught me that this rules you out of the race before you've even put your trainers on. And I think this old way of viewing the world is falling out of favour, certainly for me.

So, at 35 I finally set up an account on the website. I joined in with Plottober (the month of October where you plan out your project). I donwloaded podcasts, I made playlists and moodboards and I stewed over my idea. The idea of HAVING to write 50k words was so overwhelming. But this year, my middle aged mum-self is doing it, despite that. I have no intention of winning - I have a toddler, an untidy house and a day job... but I'm not letting that defeat me before I start. My realisation; if I ONLY write 10k words that's 10k more than I would have written without the driving force and community of Nano. The winning is the doing - so maybe I am going to win after all!

InspirationWriting ExerciseWriter's BlockCommunityChallengeAchievements

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