What's this NaNoWriMo thing?
Every year since 2009, I've participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is also known. NaNo, for short, is a month long challenge that takes place every November where you push yourself to attempt to write 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days.
Am I crazy? Absolutely. With everything else going on in life, NaNo can be a struggle. I've only officially 'won' one year, and since then, things have gotten more hectic as I've volunteered to moderate the regional forums and plan local write-ins for the month. That said, it's the most rewarding struggle.
As a writer who is still stuck in a bit of a hobbyist phase, I'm constantly stuck with the ultimate Writer's Dilemma: actually writing.
So Why Do It?
Even though NaNo is a constant challenge, and my entire month of November turns into a foggy series of work, eat, sleep, write, repeat... the fact remains that the very act of sitting down and writing is so very worth it. NaNo is a constant reminder of that, and a scheduled way to bring that joy in a busy world. After all, it's so easy to forget to take the time to prioritize the things we really want to do.
There's nothing quite like the realization that you've turned a corner in plot that you are pleasantly surprised by, or that you've written a character that jumps off the page with an uncontrollable vigor. Even the smallest bit of clever dialogue can seem like the biggest accomplishment when you're furiously working to get those 1,667 words in for the day.
NaNo Does Two Key Things
1. It gives you deadlines.
- In a world dominated by notifications and calendar events, it's so easy to just let pre-scheduled events run your life. NaNo works well within this framework because you have a measurable daily deliverable to work to meet your goal.
2. It gives you permission to suck.
- If you've ever written anything, especially fiction, you know you can go over and over the same sentence just trying to get things right. Suddenly hours go by and instead of adding any length to your work you've added three paragraphs, and deleted four. By giving a tight deadline, NaNo forces you to lock away your inner editor so you can focus on getting all of the ideas on the page first, completely uninhibited. This one is easier in theory than in practice, but if you can master it, it makes the daunting task of getting a completed first draft so much more achievable.
How Do I Start?
If you're interested in joining our local group of writers and taking on the journey of writing 50K in 30 Days, head on over to www.nanowrimo.org to sign up for an account and get started. Then make sure to join the North Dakota Elsewhere region and check out our Regional Forum, as well as the many other forum threads to get the ideas running.