"The world needs your novel"
That's NaNoWriMo's motto. Whether you've never written more than a letter, or you're John Green and writing rip-your-heart-out novels is old hat, the NaNo Team's motto is that your novel is important. And they back it up, too. Just to rehash their October 2016 press release 384,126 people frantically cradled new ideas while dashing through a 50,000-word count marathon over the course of November, hoping their guts out that their idea wouldn't fall flat half way through. Behind the scenes, the wonderful team organizes write-ins, meet-ups, a night of Dangerous Writing, and pep talks from published authors just so aspiring writers will have the help and encouragement they need.
Needless to say, there is a soft, warm spot in my heart for this event. The adrenaline, the supportive community, the sense of deadline- there is nothing better for a writer, in my opinion.
It may seem impossible to spit out that many words in a month, or that they will all be coherent (they're not), or that they could ever be worthy of being published (they probably won't be). If you want all the reasons why NaNoWriMo is not for you just google NaNoWriMo criticism. Seriously:
But there is more to NaNoWriMo than putting pretty publishing-worthy words down on the page. If you're a fence sitter, and you're just not sure if NaNoWriMo is worth all the hype, let me propose these three reasons why, even of if your NaNoWriMo story never gets published, it is one of the best things you can do as a writer.
1. Leave your perfectionist, smart-talking ego at the door.
To write a whole novel in a month and have any kind of functioning life outside of that goal you have to write quickly and efficiently. If you find you can't finish a project because you're still rewriting the first paragraph, NaNoWriMo is an exercise for leaving that inner critic behind. It's a skill, really, to be able to put words on paper and not criticize them to death, and like all skills the more you practice it the better you become. One day all that anxiety you feel about whether that sentence, that chapter, that book is polished enough will be gone, and you'll have yourself and NaNoWriMo to thank for that.
2. Do the thing that scares you.
It's just a month, one measly month. My second year I was smack dab in the middle of writing my novel On The Wings Of Angels. At the time I was scared I was writing myself into a box, that Angels was the only kind of thing I'd ever write. I didn't have the time or the energy to start another novel and still give Angels the time it deserved, but I needed to prove myself wrong. When November came along I decided that taking a month break wasn't going to set me back too far, and I used it to bust out something entirely different. Will that idea ever see the light of day? Maybe not, but I like knowing that if I wanted to write a different genre, I could. This November I'm trying my hand at world-building, something I find very intimidating and it may not work out. But that's okay- it's only a month! Have you had this sneaking suspicion you'd really like to write horror? Do you want to try a new plotting technique? Can you pull off Pantsing? Make November the month you find out!
3. Being part of a community is the number one killer of procrastination
It's motivating to know that, in all parts of the world, there are people doing the exact same thing you're doing. It helps fight the I Don't Feel Like It Today monster. Other people are making it work, so can you. On their site, NaNoWriMo has made it possible for you to friend other writers. It' great- friends can see each other's stats and nothing lights a fire under your seat than seeing a friend's word count go up faster than yours. Tap into that competitive side, let the words fly, make it a fight. Then, at the end, feel proud of the hard work you've done with the people who know exactly what it took to get there.
Also, If you're stuck, or you have questions or need to bounce ideas off of someone, NaNoWriMo has active and positive forums where your cup can be filled with the knowledge and encouragement of other writers. Dive into the community and see just how much it helps the quality of your writing and how much easier it is to just get the job done.
Try it. Seriously, just this once. If you don't know where to start, or you can't get past the idea stage, send me a message through the Contact Me page of this blog. I will share the documents I use to get started (free). Also if you want a peek at my NaNo story, check it out here. What has your experience been with NaNoWriMo? What is something that could make it better?