web analytics

My first reaction was, “Are you kidding me?”

Fifty thousand words? In only 30 days?

This is not the article I intended to write today. But when I saw a logo for the NaNoWriMo writing exercise on another site, I got completely sidetracked. And intrigued. And began pondering whether or not I should participate.

When I clicked the link and read the description, a couple of things jumped out at me. First of all, that’s 1,667 words per day. When you break it down in that fashion, the task doesn’t seem so daunting. After all, I’m a lawyer. I can crank out a brief containing a lot more words than that without even getting warmed up or breaking a sweat. And do on most work days.

I entered a Short Story Contest this time around and it was nearly impossible to limit my entry to 1,000 words. I rewrote and rewrote . . . I almost said “Fuhgetaboutit” and hit the “publish” button, figuring I would post the article here, but skip the contest. But I’m extremely stubborn and I was determined to participate in this particular contest, so I persevered and believe that the final product is far superior to the draft versions. Leaner, tighter, a crisper read.

That story came in at 998 words. No matter how you look at it, I made it with virtually no nouns, verbs or adjectives to spare. So I can write 1,667 words. That’s a given.

But every day? For a whole month? That requires focus, concerted effort, direction. It means having to come up with fresh content each day — new ideas tempered by continuity, cohesion. Can I sustain that kind of overarching vision? Do I have the drive?

Again, on a professional level, I have completed countless lengthy writing projects. Appellate briefs, for instance, are often limited to 50 pages, including footnotes. And presenting all legal arguments related to a complex matter in only 50 pages can be extremely challenging and time-consuming, especially when you must cite to the trial record. I am currently completing an assignment that will be literally voluminous — 800 or so pages thus far and no end in sight.

But not in 30 days.

On a professional level, my focus is predetermined for me to a large extent. Persuasive writing is about shading and shaping facts provided to you in order to secure a result. The universe of available facts and legal theories is limited. The objective is to win the case and the issues are framed by its factual underpinning, although lawyers certainly use their written product to nuance and frame the issues in the manner most advantageous to their client. So legal writing can be a very creative endeavor.

Writing a novel is a very different matter. The novelist creates the story, the facts, the characters, the settings . . . By definition, a novel is “a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes.”

I have openly admitted here previously that I do not write fiction. I tried it a couple of times in college with absolutely no success. I like to think that I am a creative writer within my nonfiction comfort zone, but I am not an imaginative writer. I have no idea, as I sit here thinking about all of the possibilities, what my story arc (is that the correct term?) would look like.

I can’t even imagine — yet — what kind of tale I could tell or how I would stretch it into 50,000 words.

And frankly, the limitless possibilities intimidate and discourage me as much as they inspire and excite talented fiction writers.

So I guess I need to evaluate whether or not I have the desire and willingness to push myself into a new genre. Do I really want to see where navigating the uncharted territory of my imagination, a working keyboard and blank computer screen will lead me?

Fortunately, I have until October 1 — as do you — to consider all of the possibilities and decide whether to participate.


  1. You can do it. They don’t even have to be 50,000 well written words. This year will be my 4th of doing Nanowrimo.

  2. I heard about this last year but I didn’t know it had to be 50,000 words. Now that’s dedication!

  3. Nanowrimo is a real challenge, no doubt about it, but surely rewarding. Without a plot, I’ll begin November 1 at that site for a third year and come away with coffee jitters, a headache and one new novel. Love it!

  4. I participated in NaNoWriMo last year. I feverishly wrote my novel and by the end of the month, my word count was at an unbelievable 65,000 words. It isn’t too bad of a challenge, and just remember, NaNo is about quantity, not quality. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend even looking at your novel after NaNo until the new year, just to make sure you can look at it with a fresh eye and an uncluttered head. Good luck!

  5. Hey! glad to see other NaNoers!

    I’m creating a blogroll for NaNoBloggers (NaNoers who talk about NaNo on their blogs).

    I’ve choosen your blog to be included in this. You can find the blogroll at: http://eknano.blogspot.com

    Good Luck with NaNoWriMo!


  6. You can do it! I did it in 2005. Just be sure to write a lot in the first few days…I got to the last week and had to write…oh, close to 30k in that week…not a good idea, that’s for sure…

  7. best cd rates

    Thats crazy! That is a lot of words. It is hard when you really get into something to just stop at some point.

    best cd rates’s last blog post..How To Get Rid Of Credit Cards

  8. Wow that’s a lot of words. I wonder if I write that many words every month. Now that I think about it I probably do! It would be interesting to figure it out thought.

    Mr Lasik’s last blog post..Pasadena Lasik Eye Surgeon – Abraham V. Shammas

  9. Modern Dandies

    it’s a freak

    Modern Dandies’s last blog post..Inspector Coat by 3.1 Phillip Lim

  10. Damn! 50.000 words is just enough for me to fall victim to my writers block about 10 times… frustrating!

  11. Never heard about it!50K words?Sounds crazy! It’s interesting for me, thanks

  12. I did it this year for the first time, made my 50K at 11:40 p.m. November 30… it’s turned into a wonderful novel that I’m submitting to agents now. If you want to try, they’ll do it again next fall–my suggestion is to outline and character draw FIRST. It helps during the times when you get stuck. And don’t spend all your time in the forums, which are hilarious but huge time-wasters!

    Babs M’s last blog post..Progress by any other name

  13. Jason Pearson

    Yes that does seem like a lot of words, but I am sure if you took it one day at a time, you would be able to be successful at it. I would suggest maybe taking a few days off in the month. That’s gonna increase the daily word count a little, but could really help you from getting burnt out.

  14. Nanowrimo is a real challenge, no doubt about it, but surely rewarding. Without a plot, I’ll begin November 1 at that site for a third year and come away with coffee jitters, a headache and one new novel. Love it!

    ?simyok’s last blog post..?nternet Suçlar?

  15. I’ve tried for the last two years to get 50,000 words done in a month. So far I’m 0 for 2. Maybe the third time is a charm.

    Davids last blog post..Understanding the Terms Used by the Payday Loan Industry

  16. Steve Elliott

    I’ve tried for the last two years…to get 50,000 words done in…two years.

    That is some achievement, glad we don’t have to use pen and paper to do it anymore!

  17. house quebec

    It is not an easy task at all. You are brave and strong.

Pin It