Each year millions of writers sign up, but only 10-15% finish. So, why all the hype?
November is here and with that brings Nanowrimo 2022. In case you don’t know, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The time of year when SO many writers decide to take advantage of built in accountability, self-esteem boosts and commit themselves to writing a novel in a month. Are we masochists? Gluttons for punishment? There has to be a reason this is so popular, right? Or maybe it’s not really that hard to get 50,000 words on a page in a month.
Well, out of the 450 million of participants that sign up each year, only 10-15% of them actually finish. And since 1999 when the program began, only 250 manuscripts were ever picked up and actually published by traditional publishers. So why is there the continued hype?
Why with these crazy odds stacked against them, do writers continue to set up their profiles and get their butts in the chair each November 1st?
I think it comes down to a few reasons. The main one- Hope. Just like how the new year has become the perfect opportunity for a clean slate and goal setting time, Nanowrimo offers the possibility of getting ahead. Even if completion doesn’t occur, you’ve still got more words on the page than when you started. And isn’t that fulfilling in itself?
The second reason is– Permission. In a world where one of the hardest things about being a writer is finding time to write, a built-in excuse to prioritize writing for a few weeks is pretty darn tempting. Think of the psychology on this one. You’ve publicly committed to this goal to produce a particular word count. So, for that to happen– you have permission to let dishes and house cleaning pile up and fall back on pizza for dinner multiple nights in a row. You can even potentially take a few personal days and call in favors for extra childcare.
The third reason is– It’s temporary. Whenever there is a set timeframe and deadline, it is easier to justify making sacrifices that are harder to maintain long term. Yes, you can skip plans with friends for a few Friday nights or toss every birthday party invite in the trash during November. But keeping that up indefinitely? Much harder to maintain.
So, maybe that’s the allure of Nanowrimo. Maybe the majority of us even go in knowing it isn’t really about the completion of the novel. But having one month where we can tell our jobs, families, and just life in general, writing is prioritized. And if a few of your new habits fall over into the rest of the year? Even better.
For all of you participating in Nanowrimo 2022– Good luck! I hope you find whatever fulfillment you seek out of the process!