Right now, I am supposed to be writing my novel for National Novel Writing Month, or as it’s more frequently referred to, NaNoWriMo.
If you haven’t heard about NaNoWriMo yet, it is the international challenge, every year for the month of November, where participants commit themselves to writing 50,000 words of a novel, without going back to edit anything. No rewrites, no deleting words, just writing. Solidly. For the whole month.
I have only ever reached 40,000 words, and that was last year, when practically all I was doing was writing my squishy butt off. In the mornings, on breaks and lunch at work, in the evenings. I don’t really remember much of November last year, because honestly I was mostly spending it holed up in my room trying to write (and save money for my trip to Australia).
However, I must have done some social things, because if I hadn’t, I would have reached 50,000 words and would have completed NaNoWriMo for the first time ever.
This year I am already severely behind, and it is tempting, as a previous participant who knows the drill, to be upset about this. But this is not a post to lecture you about how important it is to not fall behind. I’m not going to give you tips on how to keep on writing your squishy butt off until you hit that coveted word count.
This post – which is as much procrastination for me as it is for anyone reading it – is about how NaNoWriMo, even if we don’t win it, is a fantastic thing to do anyway, because it inspires in all who take part the daily need to be creative. How? Well:
- The aim of the challenge is to write as many words as possible in quite a small time frame. Now, one could argue that this means writers churn out a lot of crap, and that is often true – apparently publishers will automatically scorn any novel where the writer claims to have written it during NaNoWriMo. However, someone once said that to be great at something, you first have to be good at something, and to be good at something, you first have to be bad at something, and to be bad at something, you need to do the thing in the first place. You could be writing word after word of useless crap, but what you’re doing is practicing a craft. Even if you think it’s rubbish now, at least you are doing something, and working towards eventually writing something amazing.
- It gives you the opportunity to explore that idea that you have been thinking about for ages but never had the confidence to start. Nobody is going to read it unless you force them to. The beauty of writing about such an idea for NaNoWriMo is that it’s allowed to be rubbish, because it is merely an exploration of an idea you’ve never written about before. This gives you a fresh start, a fresh perspective, and if it turns out to not be your strongest work, well, you got to give it a go, whereas you might never have done so before.
- It makes you competitive, but only with yourself. Throughout the month you are constantly chasing a word count, and trying your best to beat what you did yesterday. A little bit of competitiveness does wonders for creatives, as long as you don’t get too stressed about it. Sometimes, thinking of it as a game can mean your ideas flow even more. Think Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein to be the best horror / sci-fi writer out of her friends. Yeah.
- You get to create something every. Single. Day. Do you know how great that is? There’s no actual pressure other than the one you put on yourself. Getting the opportunity – or rather, making the opportunity – to create every day is something that so many successful people do, and it is so so special to have an actual excuse to do that. Writing at work? Who cares, it’s for NaNoWriMo! (Don’t actually write when you should be working though…)
- Throughout NaNoWriMo, you are given endless support from all the other people taking part. There’s the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter, there are endless forums and meet ups, and because everybody is in the same boat as you, everyone is happy to swap and change and talk about their stories. It is totally inspiring to hear other people doing something so similar to you, but with completely different results! And it is even more inspiring to get pep-talks and encouragement from some of the best authors out there.
Anyway, I’m done gushing. Probably should get back to writing. Even if I don’t hit the word count, I’m still going to push myself to write a little every day.
Does this count?
I wish it did.