NaNoWriMo Pakistan Experience

December 12, 2015
I came to know about NaNoWriMo few years ago through social media. The idea of writing a novel of 50k words in a month seemed, at the same time, daunting and exciting. Daunting because taking out time to write an essay of 2000 words is an effort in itself, requiring careful flow of ideas and proper planning of objectives to achieve from the write-up.

It was not the case with NaNoWriMo, because writing 50,000 words novel in 30 days just did not seem possible. But it was exciting at the same time, the sheer joy of writing that story that has been brewing in your mind for a long time. So, in the year 2014, I tried my hand at NaNoWriMo's challenge and began working on a sci-fi novel set in Karachi. I was excited, and scared, and was determined to see it through.

It did not last long. I could not continue beyond 5,000 words.

This probably is not for me, I thought. I am one of those who need a long time to write such a large piece.

And the story remained there, on my laptop, untouched, for nearly a year. And I was reminded of it by Desi Writers Lounge when they announced official participation for NaNoWriMo 2015. The presence of Slay Belle, NaNoWriMo's official liaison for Pakistan region, paved the way for more coordinated writing efforts and her prior experiences of NaNoWriMo were more than a help throughout the writing journey.

It is difficult to explain this phenomenon, the journey of achieving 50,000 words in a month, but also to completely cut off over 10,000 words and rewrite several sections, add new ones, to finally complete the story nearing 55,000 words. From the oath taking ceremony to weekly write-ins, the two hours full of 20-minute writing sprints, the writing prompts to help you break through Writers-Block and genuine support from writing enthusiasts who are as lost as you on the journey to the elusive 50,000 words mark.

At this moment, after writing everyday for a month and finally completing the target of NaNoWriMo, I cannot find the words to describe how much this experience has changed the way I approach to story writing. Sometimes it is just not necessary to worry about details and getting bogged down with "I don't know how to approach this/I just cannot write this/This is not making sense to me/Is this even worth writing?/I doubt even I would read what I have to write" type of non-sense. Sometimes it is just better to ram-through these blockades, making the story progress rather than waiting for your internal turmoils to settle down.

Of all the participants, who joined the Desi Writers Lounge initiative at T2F for the month of November 2015, half of them achieved the target of 50,000 words. Some did it by writing nearly 9,000 words everyday towards the end of the month, and the effort on their part to achieve that was commendable. It takes a lot of sacrifice to commit so much time so dedicatedly for a whole month.

And that is why it called for a celebration at the end, when winners, writers and genuinely interested people gathered at T2F for some music, sharing of moments and have a good time.

Those who were unable to achieve the word count target are genuinely interested in continuing writing for coming weeks.

Those who who achieved the target but not completed the story, are focused on reaching the end as soon as possible.

And those, like me, who have even completed the story, are now focused towards the editing part of the story.

The year 2016 seems to be very promising for story writing.

Picture Courtesy = Desi Wrters Lounge

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