Everybody has heard of NaNoWriMo, haven’t they?
Chances are, your aunt’s neighbour’s cat is sitting in his basket right now, licking the end of his fountain pen and making notes on his kitty blanket for November 1st, because this year he gonna be prepared, damn it.
We’ve all heard of the Kindle, too, but Other E-readers Are Available. Well so are other writing challenges. Currently insane self, and at least 361 other writers who should know better, are taking part in #100kwords100days. Organised by the lovely Sally Quilford, the title’s self-explanatory, and I say ‘at least 361’ because that’s just the writers who have joined the Facebook group.
Obviously 100,000 words in 100 days is a more achievable than NaNo’s 50k words in 30 days.
What’s that? 100k in 100 days is too easy? Hmm, well, if you want to go to the other extreme…
For those who can put everything aside for an entire weekend – and I mean everything; either book yourself into a hotel room, or bind and gag every living thing within 20 metres – there’s NaNoWriWee. The brainchild of writers on The Kernel magazine, NaNoWriWee requires you to write 50k in a weekend. Yep, you heard me. Two 15 hour writing days. I’m guessing they named it NaNoWriWee because weeing is precisely what you won’t have time for. So perhaps book a home help, a colostomy bag and a catheter whilst you’re at it. It sounds crazy but people are signing up. Hell, I’m even considering it. And seriously tempted by the hotel room option.
So why do we do it? What IS the magic lure of the writing challenge – and are there any downsides? Who better to ask than my fellow 100k100dayers…
“For me it’s the daily accountability,” Sarah Little says. “Many’s the evening the past week where my last half hour is scribbling out words just so I know I’ve done *something* for the day, whereas usually I’d have the excuse of ‘too tired’.” Gemma Noon agrees. “It makes me write. I have someone other than myself to be accountable to.” This pace-pushing has a great side-effect for Paula Martin. “It helps me ignore the inner editor that usually slows me down. I always spend ages revising, anyway, so this kind of challenge helps me get the words down, ready to revise later.” “It helps keep me on pace and working towards a goal, and on largely one thing rather than a lot of random little things.” says David Sorger, and this is something Tracy Enright finds a definite plus point; “it makes me focus on one piece rather than flitting around like a butterfly brain. I get a real sense of achievement when I meet the target.” Ahh.. targets. But can’t targets be scary?
The support of others is something everyone pointed to as a pro. “There is an incredibly supportive network both on line and at write ins and I feel very motivated at the end of it,” says Tracy Enright. Tracy was the only person to voice a downside of writing challenges, although it’s certainly one that many writers (me included!) can relate to – “I’ve found other work tends to get left by the wayside, I go short of sleep and the kids get more quick meals!”
David Sorger told me he’s been “enjoying the camaraderie and encouragement from my fellow writers and group members. It’s really motivated me to keep up at a thousand word a day pace.” It’s not only motivation that makes companionship important during the challenge though: “it is having people who will encourage me and share their experiences. It makes the whole process less lonely, ” Gemma Noon told me, and it’s this support Vikki Thompson feels is vital. “For me, the thing about writing challenges is knowing you’re not alone. That other people are trying to do the same thing, suffering the same fears, concerns, highs and lows of the challenge.”
Hmm. This all sounds rather warm and fuzzy… almost, gulp, noble… oh come on! Am I the only one who thinks we night all be a bit nuts? No, I’m not. “Until NaNo, I’d thought of writing as such a solitary pursuit,” says Sarah Little. “It was fab to find out there was a huge bunch of like-minded loons!” Er, thanks, Sarah, for proving my point. I think…