NaNoWriMo: What is going on in writing 50,000 words a month?

What is NaNoWriMo?

In October of this year, I found a magical website on the front page of this website, written in huge fonts:

This website is NaNoWriMo, the full name is National Novel Writing Month, the national novel writing month. After filling out simple personal information on this website, I started a strange journey just like I fell into a rabbit hole.

The rules of the game are very simple. Participants must complete the first draft of the 50,000-word novel between November 1st and November 30th at 11:59pm. Participants can update the number of words written on NaNoWriMo’s website every day. It is the winner that reaches 50,000 words before the deadline. like this:

Throughout November, I was repeatedly explaining what I was doing to people around me: Yes, I was writing a novel. No, no one will read the works of 300,000 participants after the end of November, and no one chooses the winners. No, there is no reward for writing 50,000 words. There is a pdf version of the official certificate, and the name and novel title should be filled in by yourself. Yes, just one month to write a first draft, and there are still hundreds of thousands of miles away. That’s right, just because I want to write it.

What is the use of NaNoWriMo?

Founded in 1999 to today, NaNoWriMo has been held for more than fifteen sessions. In 2014, more than 300,000 people around the world participated in the NaNoWriMo event. Participants from six continents formed more than 600 regional branches, and sent numerous posts on the social network and NaNo forums, reporting the number of words, cursing their own procrastination, and screaming for their own and others’ literary creations. Of course, it is not an easy task to complete a novel in a limited time: less than 40,000 of the 250,000 participants in 2012 completed the 50,000-word goal.

The most typical criticism of NaNoWriMo by literary and publishing practitioners is: write a novel a month, you can tease me! It is said that every December, there are a large number of crude 50,000-word drafts, which are sent to the editors of the publishing house by amateur novel writers, which becomes a burden for them.

Contrary to the public’s impression of a painful writer who has pinched a few beards, NaNoWriMo is preaching a seemingly frivolous way of writing: opening Twitter, following the official codeword encouragement (@NaNoWordSprints) The horn, which is repeated from five minutes to half an hour, completes the maximum number of words in the shortest amount of time. If there is no inspiration, the encouragement account managed by the volunteers in various regions of the world will randomly throw out small ideas for reference. For example, this push an hour ago:

The most important concept of NaNoWriMo is: Your story matters. It is a good incentive to raise the goal and raise the novel to “make the world a better place.” But specifically, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children around the world are on the desk for a month, creating countless games of dawn, hunger, ice and fire or Harry Potter’s fan fiction. How can the world be made? Better, there is not a very strict logic in this.

Even without discussing the quality of writing, NaNoWriMo maximized the social process of writing that was extremely private. Participants posted their writing progress on Twitter, Facebook and all social networks for a month, and on NaNo’s website there were thousands of forum posts that participants exchanged with each other (I am also very shamelessly After a few days of word counts on Weibo, after completing the first draft of 50,000 words, I posted in a circle of friends and deceived a dozen or so. How much more narcissistic behavior really contributes to the emergence of valuable literary works?

Why is NaNoWriMo useless?

There are three kinds of people in this world: those who don’t want to write novels; those who want to write novels, so they write novels; even those who want to write novels but don’t write novels.

For a long time, I knew the pain of the third person. On those autumn nights when the weather gradually cooled down, I looked at the yellow leaves falling out of the window, and I was deeply hurt by the passage of time.

One morning, I woke up from my dream and suddenly felt that if I didn’t write a novel again, I would never be able to write it. This sudden sense of urgency pushed me into the abyss of anxiety.

NaNoWriMo saved me from my anxiety and realized the wonderful feeling of overcoming procrastination. I am no longer an impulsively controlled doll that is emotionally and instantly satisfied. I have subjective initiative, both perseverance and superior time management. I can decide to open Evernote at nine o’clock in the evening and write for two hours (or (writing half) Hours, brush for half an hour) *2), then sleep.

The thing I am writing is certainly not the next great American novel; I have a clear understanding of the level of writing in the past November and the flaws and loopholes in it. But the vague idea in my mind a month ago has become a very specific 50,000 Chinese characters. An An is lying on the hard disk, waiting for me to further optimize and improve.

On the evening of November 30, I am full of confidence in the future. Maybe one day I will become a writer, maybe not. But I will try it next. Most importantly, I learned how to take the next step: turn on the timer and tell myself to write for half an hour anyway, then put your finger on the keyboard and never relax when the bell rings.

What works

  • Publish the number of words on the website. The rules of the game are clear, the goal is clear, and there is no gray area to eliminate the possibility of cheating. The entire NaNoWriMo website implements a gamified design approach and is available with a variety of medals that are effective for modern people who like to accomplish their lives.
  • Participate in regional activities distributed in the vicinity. I joined the Paris team and took part in a kick-off event at the Public Information Library at the Centre Pompidou from 7 am on the morning of October 30 to November 1st. I wrote 5,000 words a night. In addition to this, there is a weekly brushing night or a coffee house collective writing activity, although many of them get together with the code word and the same code at home, nerdy, with everyone holding candy, holding the kitchen timer The code word is still slightly cute.
  • Online writing activities. Every night, students from the NaNoWriMo branch in France are in a live chat room, playing fifteen or thirty minutes of word war, and taking a timer to participate, which is more than the number of words written in a limited time. . NaNoWriMo’s official codeword encourages the Twitter account (@NaNoWriMoSprints) to organize global ww events around the clock in November.


  • Unexpected event. The biggest obstacle is the terrorist attack in Paris on November 13. It was Friday, at 10 o’clock in the evening. When I was in the online chat room, I saw the news when I was in the online chat room. The chat room exploded in an instant, and the online AFP reporter just sent him through the work channel. Confirmed message. Then I was shocked and didn’t open the writing software for the whole weekend (if I was sitting in a tavern drinking, going to the concert, watching football, being shot by machine guns, being bombed by human bombs, I wrote this little fresh What is the meaning of small troubles?). After starting work on Monday, I gradually started again.
  • Limited energy. NaNoWriMo’s official goal is to write 50,000 words a month (in fact, 50,000 words in English, 50,000 words in Chinese actually have less than 50,000 English words), so that on average, you need to write 1,667. Words. The official Q&A said that the goal is set at 50,000 words because it is almost a full-time job and the limit that can be reached every day. As a doctoral student who needs to work every day, my writing in the middle of the week is basically concentrated after eating dinner. I spend two hours writing after 9 o’clock every day, and the time to sleep is almost midnight. If you do this every day and want to write more on the weekend, it will inevitably squeeze out the time that you used to exercise, relax, and socialize. When you decide to write, you will inevitably change the rhythm of your life.
  • No inspiration. Because I decided to participate in this activity in mid-October, I basically thought about the main characters. I had a very brief outline. I started with a major contradiction. Although there are a lot of small ideas in the process of writing, it is not so easy to come up with an unconventional and interesting method of resolving contradictions.

Other tips

  • This year’s NaNoWriMo ended this evening. In addition to the largest November event, Camp NaNoWriMo is also available in April and July each year. Interested students can pay attention. The forum of the website will be emptied every October, and before that, everyone can also go and see.
  • At present, there are not many people participating in the country, and the entire China region is a branch. Everyone also built a WeChat group according to local conditions, and the atmosphere is also very happy.
  • Every year, NaNoWriMo invites writers who have published novels (some of which are writers through the novels written during NaNo) to encourage all participants. These articles can be found on the website ( ), even if you don’t look at it during NaNo, you can play chicken blood.
  • NaNoWriMo is aimed at writing the first draft. For those who know that there is a story to tell, but always delaying a blank manuscript, NaNoWriMo provides an excuse for “no matter how bad, write it.” I have never written more than 5,000 words in the past, and I have never dared to write a long novel. NaNoWriMo succeeded in letting me overcome my fear and procrastination within a month.