National Novel Writing Month is only a few weeks away, and the body of participants is diverse as always; returning champions, first timers of all ages who are just a bit more nervous than excited, and tentative writers like me who are giving the 50,000 word mad dash a go after an exhaustive sprint years earlier.
My first experience with NaNo was a lot like exercising. I felt great about the idea of it, reached a peak during it, but then plateaued and afterwards, collapsed in a pool of sweat and tears with a mess of a project that made me question why any sane human being would ever subject themselves to such absurdity.
But this year I’m ready. I’ll be suited up, more familiar with the territory and have packed plenty of water and Band-Aids to patch myself up when I inevitably stumble and fall. And some granola bars. In the words of Dwight Schrute, “If you wanna win you gotta fuel like a winner!”
I’ve been thinking a lot about NaNoWriMo the past few days, and decided to put this little list together of 5 reasons why you should take the plunge and get yourself signed up in time for the kickoff November 1st.
1. You Can Make Writing a Daily Habit
If you’re like me when it comes to writing, you are filled with scenes, ideas and quips from characters every single day, but they rarely make it onto paper. You grow frustrated with how long it’s taking your novel to progress, and for some reason just can’t keep your promise to yourself to write every single day.
NaNo will help you change that. You’ll have a goal in mind, a fun little meter to fill up with each word and a reason to be accountable. And after a month straight of finding ways to work writing into your schedule at random intervals, you’ll have laid the foundations of a very healthy creative habit.
2. Meet Writer Friends
The writing community on Twitter, which you can find via hashtags like #amwriting, are filled with awesome people who want to encourage one another in their creative endeavours. Many of them will be participating in NaNo, so you’ll have comrades during this uphill battle. There are also forums, in-person meetups and plenty of other online discussions regarding NaNo that will help you meet some great people, find some awesome projects and form friendships that’ll inspire you to keep going.
3. Learn to Stop Hating Everything You Write
When we’re sitting in front of our computers, it’s easy to nitpick every fine detail and compare our work to our favourite authors’, our friends or even just our past work. The beauty of NaNoWriMo that sounds like an editor’s nightmare is the fact you can’t obsess over the small details. This is freewriting on crack. You’ll be so focused on reaching that 50,000 word goal by the end of the month that after a few days, you’ll be ploughing through those paragraphs with glorious, reckless abandon.
4. You’ll Become a Better Improviser
Ever see cartoons or TV shows where a character pounds away furiously at a typewriter and just seems to have all their greatest ideas come from nowhere? NaNoWriMo can turn you into one of those stupendous lunatics. Freewriting so much will train you to ignore that inner-critic. The one that tells you something is unrealistic, impossible or just plain stupid. You’ll hit a few bumps in the road, but halfway through NaNo, you’ll be able to advance a plot in your head just by typing, not hours upon hours of self-deprecating outlining.
5. There’s Nothing Else Like It
No other writing community has such a large impact on writers worldwide. NaNoWrio is even implemented in schools, spanning across the board from elementary to high school students. It fosters self-acceptance, imagination, and artistic expression in a way that leaves a mark. Even if you don’t reach your 50k, you’ll have committed to your work in a way that proves how much you love your craft. It’s an achievement regardless of the outcome that will leave you with a newfound sense of capability and confidence (which you’ll definitely need during the post-NaNo editing process.)
And besides, if you don’t make your 50,000 words this time around, there’s always next year.