You may remember that last year I participated in National Novel Writing Month (see this post). For those of you unfamiliar with it, NaNoWriMo challenges people every November to write 50,000 words in 30 days, about 1,667 words per day (3 typed pages). It was very challenging, but I was victorious (victory post here). One of the aspects of the experience that made it so difficult was that I learned about it literally days before the start, and so I was a “pantser,” or, one of those writers that makes stuff up as they go and does very little, if any planning. This year, I am looking ahead. Even though it’s only the end of September, I am beginning to write down ideas, character traits, and I even have a working title. I plan to spend the month of October doing some outlining so that I can win the challenge and maybe, this time, produce a book that I go on to sell in ebook format on Amazon.
And now, I offer you reasons why you, too, should participate. After all, most adventures are far more enjoyable with company!
1. You learn how much time you really have during the day, and it’s more than you think!
This was a huge takeaway for me last year. Everyone always gushes about how busy they are, but I found that I was able to write 1,667 words a day by discovering those free pockets of time–15 minutes here or there–and taking advantage of them. Even time spent in the car was “free” time to mentally formulate plot twists.
2. You get to create.
Unless you are a super-crafty person that sews, knits, or scrapbooks, what do most of us actually “create” during the day? For me, I do create new recipes, but that’s not a daily occurrence. During NaNoWriMo, you get to really indulge that dusty right side of your brain, and you do it EVERY day for a month. Who’s to say you won’t author the next “Water for Elephants”? Yes, that was a NaNo book.
3. It’s an escape.
Can’t take a vacation right now? That’s okay–you can visit anywhere in the world (or even another time and dimension) when you write your novel. There are no limits, no boundaries. Anything goes. It’s incredibly freeing.
4. You get to be selfish.
For me, as a mom, I don’t get to be selfish very often. The needs of my family come first. Writing a novel is, like training for a marathon, a somewhat selfish pursuit. And that’s a good thing! We all deserve to tackle these big goals. It’s good for our children to see us doing them. You may not ever intend on another soul laying eyes on your manuscript, but it’s all YOURS.
5. You meet amazing people who support you.
NaNoWriMo has fantastic online forums where people offer one another moral support, tips on plot points, reference material, etc. And depending where you live, there are usually scheduled write-ins where you get together with other participants for several hours and type away. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet others that are passionate about the written word.
6. You learn about yourself.
You learn SO much about yourself. You learn about how your mind works and you get to exercise it. You learn about your own level of dedication and perseverance. You learn about how you manage your time during the day. You learn that you really are more creative than you ever thought.
7. You develop as a writer.
Make no mistake, even if you’re writing garbage and it’s ugly and convoluted and messy, writing itself, the process and the stringing together of words and thoughts….this is an intellectual pursuit. And it’s far better exercise for your brain than watching the latest reality show.
8. You become more observant and reflective of the world around you.
A story is lurking everywhere. Every little thing people say and do is fodder for the characters of your novel. Every time you step aside, turn around, open a window, turn on the television, or pick up the phone, there is inspiration seeping from the experience. Keep a notebook handy at all times to jot down these ideas.
9. It gives you the push you may need.
Writing 50,000 words in just 30 days is tough for most people; that’s why it’s a challenge. Now, you’ll meet those amazing people in the forums that spill out 120K words during the month, but that is rare. For most of us, we have rough ideas about stories we’d like to write, but we just never buckle down and DO it. Just write. Having a deadline and daily quota was just the push I needed, and having friends that participated helped too; it encourages a bit of competition.
10. You feel incredibly accomplished when it’s over.
I’ve run 10 half-marathons, and the feeling of accomplishment I got from “winning” NaNoWriMo last year was on par with how I feel when I finish a half-marathon. It was that challenging. And that rewarding.
Give it a go! Take the month of October to start planning out characters and outlining your plot.