NaNoWriMo for Academics?

A novel approach to novel writing.

November 3, 2014

Every November, aspiring and confirmed writers from all over the world get involved into the NaNoWriMo project. The National Novel Writing Month aims to help writers  reach the goal of writing 50,000 words in one month’s time, through a careful planning of the number of words created every day. In addition to the writing space, the project also offers a significant network – increasing from one year to the next – of fellow writers with whom to share experiences, failures and eventually to look to for support during the writing process.

The first time I discovered the project, I’d found it interesting enough to join, producing the requested number of words for a novel that is still waiting for a serious proofreading after more than 3 years. A couple of months after I finished, I still kept the spirit, organizing and keeping a clear writing plan, with a determined number of words to be done every day.

Because I have recently given up on working on some literary projects, I was seriously considering joining the NaNoWriMo again, this time to work on some dramatically delayed academic and non-fiction projects. The incentive of getting ready in one month some writing that I could not finish in the last several months sounded very tempting, and over and over again, I questioned my reasons for a serious ‘good bye’ to procrastination, lack of academic proficiency, and in general anything that could affect my once-famous productivity.

However, when I examined many more details of the books I am planning to write, I discovered that the serious reason why I was not able to finish them was because all of them require an in-depth investigation and research. Apparently, it’s not the inability to reach a certain amount of words the day blocked any further progress, but rather the lack of a proper environment that might give me the right freedom to go through all the materials, make a selection and create original quality writing.

Could NaNoWriMo help me to get faster through the megabyte of books and articles I need to read? Maybe one special competition of this kind should take into consideration the amount of words and/or pages that must be read one day in order to be able to have enough information for starting the writing once and for all.

But maybe I worry and complain too much. After a careful analysis, some failures and mistakes can be easily turned into successful lessons learned, especially when it comes to writing and the business of words. Assuming the identity of a writer and the daily fight of creating worlds and sense out of words is not an easy task. There should be passion at the beginning, but without a careful plan and a lot of discipline and the awareness that everything is a process and the more you learn the better writer you are, nothing is meant to resist the test of time.

Although probably I will not take the challenge of NaNoWriMo this year, I will try at least to keep its disciplined spirit. And, who knows? Maybe by the end of 2014, I will be finally able to succeed at least with one of my non-fiction projects that have been impatiently waiting to be finished for a long couple of months. 


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