National Novel Writing Month, Part 1: To NaNo, . . .

By Chris Richards, Assistant Director

It’s almost November and my writing friends and I are talking about NaNoWriMo.

For those who don’t know, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. When I first learned about the challenge I thought “no way can I do this.” But thanks to my pushing, prodding, shoving, and daring friends, I finally tried it one year. After participating for several years, I’ve learned some good reasons to NaNo and some good reasons not to NaNo. This blog is why authors should NaNo.

  1. It teaches me to free my mind. Any good author edits his or her work. In fact we spend so much time editing it can become difficult to read anything or even to write without editing. The concept of NaNoWriMo is to just get the novel done. One of the primary instructions is to turn off my internal editor and just write. Editing comes later.
  2. It teaches me to meet deadlines. To write 50,000 words in 30 days requires writing an average of 1,667 words a day. Now I know many writers who are disciplined enough in their writing that this is not a problem but I have to work at it. Therefore, this is good training for me. The NaNoWriMo website includes a place for me to enter the number of words I’ve written so I can track my progress and know whether or not I’m on schedule.
  3. It helps me connect with other writers. Authors all over the world participate in NaNoWriMo and through the website I can connect with them and enjoy their company. Even throughout the year I find myself in situations where the topic of writing comes up and NaNoWriMo is mentioned. This leads to discussions of what various authors did or did not do, as well as wonderful stories of the adventures of the challenges of getting our word count completed midst the responsibilities and demands of life.
  4. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. The prize for completing the 50,000 words during the month is a certificate and a ribbon that can be posted on my website. That is pretty lame as prizes go. But I the emotions around completing are amazing. I print out the certificate, and jump up and down with joy as I show it to my husband and other members of my family and friends—and even some strangers who probably think I am very weird and they want to run away from me.
  5. I rediscover the sheer freedom of writing unrestrained.
  6. I let go and embrace the story.
  7. I create more than I ever thought possible.
  8. I feel like I’m part of something big and amazing which makes me feel powerful.
  9. I try things I’ve never tried before.

So this is why I NaNo. My next blog will be about why I have learned I shouldn’t NaNo.

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This post is also posted on Chris Richards’ website Passing the Quill, under the title To NaNo . . .

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