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Overachievers in Nanowrimo are those who consistently and purposely strive for more than the 50,000 word goal.
Nanowrimo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. For most non-professional writers (and some professionals) this means banging out 1,667 words per day all month. And it can be a struggle. But, as with many challenges, there are those who take the word count as a minimum--those scattered few who manage, through determination, discipline and great typing speed, to write double or more the 50,000 word goal. They may either choose to write a novel of more than 50,000 words, write multiple novels, or may simply aim to finish their novel ahead of the deadline. Some may even take on the challenge of writing an entire 50k in a weekend or in a single day. These are the overachievers.
Overachievers are often (but not always) Nano veterans who have won before (perhaps not in an overachieving way) and continue to push themselves. Having a fast typing speed is not required; while some overachievers can pass 120wpm, some top out at 50wpm. Some of the higher-count overachievers are students who may have more free time than a full-time employee, whereas others are unemployed; however, it is possible for even full-time employees and MLs to overachieve, depending on their outside obligations.
Because of their fast (and sometimes insanely quick) accumulation of words, accusations of cheating are sometimes leveled at overachievers. While some users enter false numbers into the wordcount validator, either accidentally or as trolls, (some even brag about deliberately entering numbers for words they have not written from scratch), most high word counts are the product of an ordinary Nanoer who happens to be writing at a faster pace. Nano has a strict no-cheating-accusations policy, something which can often be seen enforced in the Shoutouts forum.
The overachievers usually have a thread in the This is Going Better Than I'd Hoped forum to chat about their accomplishments, share strategies, and commiserate how far behind their overachieving goals they are. They tend not to populate the NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul forum, as their word counts (which may be ahead of the regular quota but drastically behind on their own goals) often cause strife from those behind the regular quota.
The 50k Weekend challenge was the idea of a group of overachievers. Wrimos who complete the challenge write 50,000 words over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. Overachievers completed the challenge together for the first time in 2010, and some of them participated again in 2011.
Well Known Overachievers
Lazette Gifford: On the Nanowrimo forums, one of the best known overachievers is Lazette Gifford (Zette). Zette is a professional author in her own right, so has cultivated her discipline. This allows her to write copious amounts every November. In 2003, she wrote 156,345 words. In 2005, she wrote at least 200,000 words. In 2007, she wrote 210,575 words.
However, in spite of her amazing volume of work, she is well loved on the boards. She gives back to the community with a free ebook "NaNo for the New and the Insane" that offers a wealth of valuable advice on getting the most out of every day in November.
Kateness: Kate has been taking part in Nanowrimo since 2005, and consistently crosses the 100,000 word mark. In fact, her first year, she wrote 500,343 words and is one of the few who has succeeded at the million-word goal. According to her blog, she writes quickly as a matter of course and has a huge competitive streak with things she is good at.
Sushimustwrite: Multiple-time participant in #50kday, Sushi passed the mark of having written one million words in her tenth year during NaNoWriMo 2011. She is known for writing substantial quantities every year as well as being very active in the NaNoWriMo community to the point of starting and moderating this wiki.
The Quest for a Million Words
After the word count bar limit was upped from 200,000 to 999,999 in 2007, people have set out to max out the word counter by aiming for a million words. The first Wrimos to succeed at this were Hanxa, Delayra, and Caeraerie in 2008. Kateness and Caeraerie hit the million words in 2009. In 2010 the word count bar limit appears to have been reduced to 500,000 words, but that hasn't stopped several Wrimos from aiming for the million word mark.
In 2011 the word counter maxed out at 1,000,000 words for the first time, and caillien and Captain Lonewolf exceeded that limit.
The Future of Overachievers
As Nanowrimo continues to grow, the number of overachievers is likely to continue to rise. Even so, they will still only ever comprise a small percentage of the overall participants. A few overachievers have called for NaNo to be more flexible with setting goals beyond 50k, but as the overachievers are a small group of Wrimos and 50,000 words is a doable but challenging goal for most Wrimos, it's unlikely that this will change in the foreseeable future.
As of 2009, a new group has emerged - Milwordy. These individuals strive to write 1,000,000 words, but over the course of 12 months instead of only in November. Nanowrimo is often used as the starting or ending point for their efforts.
Wordcount Doesn't Matter - And Why: an article on wordcount from the perspective of an overachiever