My definition of insanity changed in 2005. Up until then, I often quoted Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” After 2006, I decided the definition of insanity is attempting and completing NaNo WriMo. The premise behind NaNo WriMo (or National Novel Writing Month), is that anyone can write a novel-length story in 30 days. You start writing 12:01 a.m. on November 1 and stop on or before 11:59 p.m. on November 30. You win nothing from this challenge except a badge that says you did it. There’s no contract at the end, there’s no pot of gold, no rainbow, so why do we do it? Other than the fact that authors are, and always will be, masochistic, there is a point to NaNo WriMo…it’s that we can hammer out a novel in a month if we are so inclined. While the novel we create in that time may or may not be anything worth publishing, it still shows that we can do it. It tells us that we can find the time to sit down and write if we look hard enough.
NaNo WriMo is also something that nobody would want to cheat at. Sure, a person could type “the” 50,000 times, or hit copy and paste 50,000 times. Sure, we could find someone else’s work and copy and paste it into a document and submit it because a computer is the only thing that will see our masterpiece and count the words, then will promptly delete it from NaNo WriMo’s system (please make sure to save your file first), but what would the point of that be? At that point, you’re doing nothing but cheating yourself.
There were several times, I’m not sure if I was lucid at the time, but those times, inspiration hit me and I couldn’t stop writing. Other times, I wrote about how annoying it was to sit down and try to write 50,000 words. The point is, write. Write every day. Hone your writing skills. Realize that you can write a novel, and you can make it happen in a month.
The first and only time I did this, I started late and ended early. I got to 50,000 words in 15 days. Now, would I be able to do that again? I don’t know, but I’m going to start right this year. As soon as I’m off work today, which is midnight, I’m going to start writing and see where it takes me. If I don’t make it, I don’t make it, but if I do, I’ll have another pretty little badge like the one above that I can brag about and I’ll remind myself why I write in the first place. Also, last time I did this, I got some really great ideas from the mostly inane writing I did. So, whether you are a novice or an experienced writer, sign up, take the challenge, do what you don’t think can be done. I can’t say there’s nothing to lose, you’ll probably lose lots of sleep, but there’s a whole lot to be gained.