Throughout the month of October, I’ll be posting a few blogs about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is in November. As I had such a positive experience last year, I’ll be talking about why I recommend it and how to survive it. #WhyNaNo
1. Seriously, why not?
This question propelled me into NaNo last year. In college, I said that I would write a book before I turned 25. As that birthday approached, I realized I had done nothing to try to obtain that goal. NaNo seemed like as good a way as any to write a novel.
And honestly, it’s just 30 days. That’s what I told myself. If this goes horribly wrong and I hate it, what have I lost? A few evenings and weekends in one month? I figured that was a small price to pay to see if I could accomplish something I’d always wanted to try.
And you know what? If you don’t “win,” it’s still okay. Last year, I discovered that just attempting NaNo rekindled my love of writing, and fueled a desire to write seriously and regularly. To me, that was worth 30 days of doing something a little crazy. In fact, if the winning is what’s stopping you from trying NaNo, don’t even think about that; just focus on spending one month writing as much as you can.
2. It’s fun.
If you enjoy writing (or just literature in and of itself), NaNoWriMo is the ultimate nerd fest. Lots of people with diverse backgrounds from all over the world get together and commit to producing new stories. Being a part of that is a very cool, very nerdy, very exciting feeling.
3. It’s challenging.
The most common response I got from anyone who I told that I was doing NaNo last year was “Wow, that sounds crazy!” And it probably is kind of crazy. But I find that sometimes the craziest things are the most creative and the most effective.
For the average person, NaNo is a huge break from the everyday routine, definitely something out of most people’s comfort zone. (It totally was for me. 50,000 words is about three times longer than my senior thesis was in college, and that was the longest paper, fiction or non, that I ever wrote until this past year.)
Challenging yourself is how progress happens. It’s unlikely that you’ll grow without trying new things. Don’t let the difficulty of NaNo keep you from attempting it.
4. Learning to punch out a first draft is a great skill.
Not everyone struggles with typing out a first draft without much stopping, but I, for one, am no good at it. I love to edit,
perfect, hone my work, even out of the gate. It’s hard for me to push through a story, especially in parts that I don’t like the writing or in parts where I feel like the plot is weak. For anyone who fights the perfectionist tendency to overcorrect in the early stages of a work, NaNo is a great exercise in letting everything, even the most awful of sentences, spill into the first draft, and being okay with it for the sake of the first draft.
5. Who knows what could come of it?
I’m not saying you should do NaNo with an eye for the bestseller list. That’s probably not realistic. But everyone has to start somewhere, and there have been authors who, after lots of editing and polishing of their rough NaNo draft, have gone on to publish, and a handful have become recognized authors. Even if that doesn’t happen, I found NaNo to be a success for me simply because it opened my eyes to the idea that I could write fiction, and that I could enjoy it.
So, if you’re feeling inspired to participate in NaNoWriMo, head over to www.nanowrimo.org, create an account, and start prepping for a great month of writing in November!