As you’re reading this, we’re writing books.
National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, occurs in the month of November. It is a time during which hearty souls commit to pounding out an entire short novel over the course of thirty days.
Tina and I have both thrown our hats in the ring.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll make it this year; I have so many other demands on my time, including Barely Salvageable, my day job, and classes. But I’m sure going to try.
Opinions vary pretty widely on NaNoWriMo; some people think that it’s only for rookies. Some people think that writing fast means poor writing. It’s a pretty widely held belief that you cannot write a publishable novel during NaNoWriMo.
I’m here to give you some reasons why you definitely should participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s right, as you’re reading this, it’s not too late. You can still catch up.
1. NaNoWriMo Helps Develop Discipline.
Having to crank out a novel in a month really puts your feet to the fire. You have to sit down every day and write a thousand plus words, or deal with having to double that on a different day down the road. Days off are expensive in terms of stress and extra hours spent with your butt in the chair writing later in the month. And this is great, because the number one failing of writers, including myself, is a lack of discipline. Some days it’s easier to just watch YouTube videos than to sit down and do the work, and I succumb to that temptation more often than I’d like to admit. NaNoWriMo is a chance for me to reset and rededicate myself to my craft.
2. NaNoWriMo Tells You That You Can.
For new writers particularly the idea of starting a novel can be daunting, and this can lead to a never ending series of excuses and procrastination. The fact of the matter is, the only way to write a book is to write. And there is no time better than now. The thing is, even if what you write during NaNoWriMo is completely unsalvageable (and I’ve written things that were), now you know that you can. You know that you can muster the sand to complete a novel length work within a month. And now nothing can stop you.
3. NaNoWriMo Builds Communities.
So the organizers at nanowrimo.org maintain message boards and calendars for an impressive number of regions. If you don’t already know other writers, you can go to one of these events, like a scheduled write-in, and meet other writers of pretty much any skill level. And if you’re too shy or reclusive to go out to an event (and a lot of us are), you can still meet people on the message boards; most of the people you’ll find there are friendly and happy to help someone out. Because any writer knows that community is vital to our success.
4. NaNoWriMo Gives You Permission to Write.
This sounds pretty silly, I know, but it can be difficult to get friends and family members to understand that you need to prioritize your writing. It can be difficult to understand yourself that you need to prioritize your writing. The tremendous gift that NaNoWriMo gives us is the ability to say, “Sorry, it’s NaNoWriMo.” I don’t know why this is more effective than saying that you really want to work on your book, or that you have a book out and you’d really like to follow it up as quickly as possible, but it is. Once the thing you’re doing has a name, it suddenly becomes a Real Thing to the people around you. This space is precious.
5. NaNoWriMo Gives You Permission to Suck.
Look. We don’t all come roaring out of the gate, dripping literary genius from our glistening fangs. I wrote two and a half “practice novels” before I had something that I felt was worth releasing to the public. And I don’t consider that time wasted at all. Without those books, I wouldn’t be half the writer I am today. And NaNoWriMo is a space in which even if you suck, you’ve still succeeded. This is important, because sucking at stuff is a huge part of being good at stuff. Failure is the compost from which success springs. And the assumption that NaNoWriMo novels are all terrible means that if you write something terrible, it’s not the end of the world. That flexibility allows you to experiment in ways that you might not ordinarily. It’s freedom, taking the hand of failure in yours.
So if this sounds like something you’re into, you should definitely stop reading this, go pop open your favorite word processor, and write! Write like the goddamn wind!