Part of the reason NaNoWriMo works so well is because it creates a temporary contract between a writer and the rest of the world. As a writer, you commit to getting 50,000 words down on paper/screen and you feel accountable for ensuring that this actually happens over the month of November. I also came across this blog post, where two writers have created a contract with one another, a good example of how this might work outside of NaNoWriMo.
The one thing that November is teaching me is how much I can actually achieve in just thirty days provided I am motivated, supported and dedicated. The camaraderie NaNoWriMo fosters encourages us to write as a community – knowing that we aren’t alone in thrashing out those words and doubting our skills as a writer. That’s why the NaNoWriMo contract, in part, mentions how you need to allow yourself to write badly in order to get that first draft out of the way. Whatever happens, just keep writing. Terms and conditions allow you to have some terrible phrases and sentences, a few erroneous characters and plot points and possibly a very random middle section!
As these are accepted within the contract there is a certain sense of freedom about it. Which is perhaps why it doesn’t feel much like a contract. It is, in actuality, more like a challenge – but we commit ourselves to it and feel suitably bereft if we fail to meet the minimum word count each day, week or at the end of the month.
As a result, I’m wondering if writing contracts might work outside of November. While Connor and Margo from the previous link, have created a contract with one another, I think I may look into forming a contract for myself in 2014. Every year I look forward to NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to explore a brand new novel concept. However, outside of this I am not particularly productive. NaNo #1 is hardly revised and I don’t feel I’m experimenting with new ideas through short stories enough.
It’s certainly something to think about. Most definitely something to keep in mind; it’s a simple fact that during the week in my two ‘writing days’ I’ve been whirring out around 3,000 words per day for NaNoWriMo, and in most cases repeating this during the weekend. In addition, I’ve not found it oppressing or difficult or laborious. It’s about knowing I’m expected to do it. That if I don’t do it, I’m letting myself down, that I’m not going to be able to increase my word count and make that target.
So, if it can work through November, why can’t it work out this way the rest of the year? If formalising my intentions through a contract will help me feel accountable, why not try it? It’s an interesting concept, and one I hope to explore once I’ve completed my NaNo #3 novel (which will take me until Christmas, I’m sure!).
As a final point, it is worth keeping in mind that, if I want to be a successful published author I will have to write to deadlines at some point. Therefore, writing contracts will only become a regular feature of my potential career; so why not introduce them sooner rather than later?
What do you think? Could a writing contract help you achieve your writing dreams?