A Case For NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again! October is officially here, which means if you intend on doing NaNoWriMo, it’s time to settle down on a story idea an do some brainstorming to get prepared. I’ll be doing a special series of posts this month to help prep.

But first, why do NaNoWriMo at all?

If, by some chance, you don’t know what NaNo is, it is an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month, and takes place in November. The challenge? Write 50,000 words in the span of a single month. That averages to about 1,667 words per day. It is a lot of writing. If you are busy with work or school, the word count can be even more daunting. But it is so totally worth it.

For one thing, NaNoWriMo gives you an excuse to sit down and churn out a new idea. If you haven’t written in awhile, you can stretch out your creative muscles. If you’ve been working on a single project for a long time, it’s nice to set it aside for a short while, temporarily expanding your creative horizons beyond a piece you’ve stared at so long your vision is beginning to swim. And, sometimes, it’s enough to simply use November as a time to take an idea that’s been nagging at you and give it a little sunshine and water to see how high it’ll grow.

For another, it can be very easy as a writer to get fixated on perfection. It can be a big endeavor, writing a book. We want it to be worthwhile in the end, and that means it has to be good. What we can forget is that it can’t be anything if it never gets shared, and it can’t get shared if it doesn’t get finished. NaNoWriMo, on the other hand, is a sprint. It demands for the project to be finished, and finished quickly. Forget perfection. It doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to be written. It’s much easier to edit a work once it’s finished, trust me.

The good news is, I already wrote a post last year about meeting word count goals when plot seems to be moving really slowly in your project. It’s called 4 Ways to Get Unstuck in NaNoWriMo. You can look there for some tips and tricks.

I understand that November can be a very busy time of year for some people. Those in school will have final papers to write or tests to study for. Retail workers will have long hours to deal with, hectic days to get through. Been there, done that, and being busy with real life has kept me from hitting 50k in the past. I still try to do the challenge as often as I can, even the Camp NaNoWriMo events in April and July, because I think it’s important to test out new ideas on occasion, rather than just getting stuck on one.

It isn’t easy, but with the vast community involved, it’s not impossible. You can meet people near you who are attempting this challenge just as you are. You can participate in writing sprints with others to add to your word count. You can ask for advice, pull on other people’s expertise, or offer some of your own. If writing a novel feels like a lonely business, as it often can, participating in NaNoWriMo is a good way to make friends who enjoy doing what you do.

This year my little sister and I will both be participating. My intention is to have my own current work in progress completely finished by then, so that all of my free time can be dedicated to NaNoWriMo. This is the first year I’ve participated where I haven’t had to juggle it with school and work. I’m excited for it.

I’m still trying to pinpoint the story idea, but that’s what October is all about, isn’t it? Prep! Next week, we’ll see about discussing how to develop a plot.


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