Finishing NanoWrimo – No Castle Necessary

How many of you heard about a group of authors living in a castle in France to do NanoWrimo?

It didn’t exactly make a lot of headlines, but CNN had a brief article on it.  At first I wasn’t quite sure why someone would want to do this, especially when it costs upwards of $5000 (!!) to participate.  Intrigued, I decided to reflect upon this idea based on my newbie experience with NanoWrimo.

I’ll be the first to admit castles are pretty badass – what kind of fantasy-ish writer would I be if I didn’t like them? 😉  If you ever have the chance to visit one, do so.  This year I went to Castle Gravensteen in Belgium, and completely worth the 10 euros to take the self-guided tour.  I took tons of pictures, particularly of the weaponry and views.  It may not be as well-known or extravagant as other castles, but it was a memorable experience nonetheless, and I would like to visit more castles in the future.  (For reference, the web page dedicated to this project, CreativCastle, also doubles as a pretty good resource for castles.)

But even if I had $5000 (!!) and could take a month off of work (unpaid, and thanks to technology I’m never really ‘off the clock’) and leave my husband to tend to the house (upon which I would inevitably return to something broken), I’m not convinced it’s worth it, or even necessary, to take such an extravagant step towards something that results in…what?

No, really, what?

For 50,000 words…?  Yes, if I had a month off, I could write more than this, and probably most could.  But the intent of NanoWrimo is to ‘jumpstart’ writers into their project (whether they be amateurs or veterans) and to help us who aren’t authors balance writing a book with everyday life.  That’s why the goal is 50,000 words (a doable challenge), and not ‘complete-a-novel’.  Taking time off work to do NanoWrimo isn’t a bad idea, but the entire month off for 50k words is a steep price.

For connections and support…?  Could easily be made online or in-person.  That’s what meet-ups and social media are for.  Hell, that’s what the NanoWrimo website is for.

For inspiration…?  Inspiration tends to be fleeting.  They are moments when, as writers, we feel most connected to our own words and ideas.  We get a sense of motivation, to relay these feelings into our works.  We take pictures to remember the moments, or write them down as soon as we get the chance.  Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time…castles included (certainly for me!), but some people are just as inspired sitting in a coffee shop (also me) or listening to songs (again, me).

For sitting around writing all day…?  Whenever I travel, I find it difficult to just sit around in a hotel room (except if I have to work).  I have to get up and explore, go to restaurants and order something I’ve never eaten before, shop, visit local museums, attend events, etc.  Point is, if I had the chance to visit a foreign country for a month, or even a week, I would not want to spend it on NanoWrimo.

For bragging rights: …Yeah, okay you got me there.  I’m all for living experiences when opportunities present themselves, but again NanoWrimo seems hardly the appropriate reason for such an awesome experience.  Hell, you don’t need a reason to experience anything, in my opinion.  If you want to do something, do it – it doesn’t need to be about something or for something.

For quiet time…?  I actually get this one.  I write best in quiet environments, and getting away from crazy everyday life would help in me focusing on actually writing.  But again, going out to a castle to do this seems a bit excessive.

Derek Murphy, the entrepreneur/author/cover artist/etc. who arranged the event, even admits that the idea is a bit extravagant.  But that was also the point, apparently – Do something big, outlandish, to celebrate something that thousands of people are fighting against themselves to complete.   It certainly benefits his portfolio, markets his name (I certainly didn’t know who he was before this), he meets new people, all while completing NanoWrimo.  He even offered to have someone come over for free via a contest, and is doing the same for next year.  Genius, really, so props to the idea and being willing to share it with others –  for $5000 (!!).

But at the same time, it’s kinda like someone in my financial situation buying a new Dodge Challenger Hellcat (sigh) for my birthday.  Sure, I can do it, but why?  Does it help me become a better driver?  Does it provide an incentive for taking responsibility?  Does it fit the need of my current lifestyle?  Or is it just something fun I want to share with others, to set myself apart, or perhaps to reach a personal goal in life?  (The answer is the latter…definitely the latter.)

My point is, NanoWrimo’s goal is to write 50,000 words.  That’s it.  It’s a goal that many people struggle with because of their hectic lives – and still finish it in spite of their hectic lives, even if those 50,000 words will either change at some point or lead to nowhere.  But to sacrifice so much time, money, and stress to live in a castle for a month in the name of something like NanoWrimo, and at a cost that could easily cover my entire marketing plan (and then some) and require more vacation days than I’ll earn in 20 years, it seems over-the-top to the point of disinterest, even so far as completely missing the point of NanoWrimo.

I’m finishing NanoWrimo for free, in the comfort of my home, and only using one vacation day.  Next week, I’ll write a summary of my first NanoWrimo and all the feels in between the last 30 days.


One thought on “Finishing NanoWrimo – No Castle Necessary

  1. 1 buck for ten words, essentially. At that point, you must be writing for fun. I had never heard of this, and somehow I suspect many of these people do this for two reasons: to write, and to spend a month in a CASTLE.


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