National Nonsensical Writing Month

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.


My spacebar popped off of the keyboard for the seventh time that night. I snatched it from the floor and rammed it back in place, knowing that it was a futile effort. Apparently, my laptop was suffering from the tribulations of National Novel Writing Month as much as I was.

It was November 2007, and I was participating in a peculiar event known as NaNoWriMo. The official website calls it “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.” Participants write 1,667 words per day for the month of November, resulting in a 50,000-word novel by midnight, November 30th. It was crazy, exhilarating, and exhausting—and I did it.

My NaNoWriMo experience was marked by a complete lack of planning and many near-failures. I plunged in without a plot or characters, scorning outlines in favor of whimsy. The first week flew by in a flurry of experimentation as I concocted increasingly outlandish plot twists. By the second week, however, I was scratching my head more often; the first inklings of frustration flirted with my mind. By the third week, I was lusting after a plot much as a zombie lusts after brains. Yet somehow, twenty minutes before December officially began, I stumbled over the finish line with 50,023 words and ninety-five pages.

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