Tomorrow, if you open your window and listen carefully, you might hear an unusual sound. It could be coming from your neighbor’s apartment or from the high school in your neighborhood or from as far away as Australia.
You walk to your computer, pondering on the strange noise, and as you start to answer your email, you realize where you’ve heard that sound before; it’s coming from a computer keyboard. But the clicking has a frantic quality to it and now you want to know why so many people are typing at such a frenzied pace.
If you knew what these typists were doing, you might think they had lost their minds. All 100,000 of them are going to attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days for an annual writing contest known as National Novel Writing Month. Some of them are teenagers, writing their very first stories. Many are moms who care for young children, mothers who work, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers.
Why, you ask, would anyone attempt to write 1700 words each day for 30 days, most likely risking carpal tunnel, knotted shoulders, cramped fingers, and bleary eyes? Why would someone choose to neglect their family and friends for the sake of an impossible goal?
Maybe you should ask me. I was one of them four years ago.
Nano participants have stories that have to be heard, and they know that the only way to tell their stories is to type them so quickly that their internal editors won’t be able to interfere. They can let their fingers play all over the keyboard, because their only goal is to tell a story that, as Chris Baty – the founder of National Novel Writing Month – puts it, “won’t make someone throw up.”
You could join them – unless you think you couldn’t possibly cut every extra thing out of your life for thirty days to write the story that’s been nagging at you for longer than you can remember. Or maybe you think that what you have to say isn’t worth saying, or it’s been said before, or you just don’t think you can do it.
As one who used all of those excuses and overcame them, I know that none of them are true. 100,000 people agree with me. Why don’t you sign up at NaNoWriMo.org and make it 100,001?
I wish I could be one of them. Maybe next year.