Friday 2 November 2012

NaNoWriMo: more than just a word for crazy people

It's day two of NaNoWriMo so there isn' much to talk about in terms of personal achievement. I'm not behind yet which I suppose is a good sign so instead I'm going to chat with you guys about NaNoWriMo itself.

So for those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is it's this ---->

National Novel Writing Month. A time when you sit down in front of your computer - or notebook - and write out a 50,000 word novel (sometimes more) in the span of 30 days. I forget that a lot of my friends in real life aren't writers (or readers, which makes me sad) so when I tell them I can't come out to play because I'm writing a novel, they look at me like I'm absolutely insane. And maybe I am but it has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo.

It shouldn't be that hard right? I mean really, all you have to do is write 1667 words per day and if you stick to that pattern you'll have just over 50K words by the end of the month. 1667 words? Pfft, that's nothing. A lot of people can pump that out in about an hour and be down with it. So if it's so easy then why is it this big project that drains and pushes people to the brink of insanity?

NaNoWriMo has very little to do with writing.

The way I see it, this month long stay in a mental asylum is all about the personal journey. You step out one day and start writing. And you start to think that writing is just like walking; it's easy, it's habit. But then you meet some bumps on the road and all of a sudden that writing isn't habit, it's a chore. And no one likes doing chores so you either put it aside for something more enjoyable or you push through until the chore is done.

It's kind of a test of your own resolve to see how far you get. It's all about testing yourself: your creativity, your perseverance, your determination - your procrastination skills. And it's a challenge to make what shouldn't be a chore, no longer a chore.

And it is about building habits. A lot of writers - professional or otherwise - will tell you that writing is a muscle in your body that you need to work constantly to keep it from breaking down. And they are right but it's a matter of how you work the muscle. You form a bad writing habit and you're screwed.

One of the many things I love about NaNoWriMo is that it forces you to form good habits (ie. writing every single day) but I don't think you should write at the exact same time every day. That's scheduling your life and as you should have figured out by now, life isn't scheduled. Force yourself to sit down and write when you have a spare moment but don't plan it unless you know you can keep up with it no matter what.

Of course this is just me talking about what's worked for me as a university student who relies way too heavily on her life maintaining a certain pattern and then freaking out when that pattern is thrown off even a little bit. So take it as you will.

It's only day two of NaNoWriMo but a lot of people are already pretty far ahead in terms of word count (mine can be found at the top of the page in the left hand corner) but one thing you shouldn't do (if you're participating or know someone who is) is think of these people as winning. Because they're not.

Number two on my list of reasons why I love NaNoWriMo: there's no way to win or lose no matter what you tell yourself. This is a journey you decided to take up all by yourself and this journey has no finish line. The purpose of the journey is to write a novel but if you don't finish within the thirty days you didn't lose. You still have part of a novel written and that's more than a lot of people can say. Last year when I did NaNoWriMo, I barely made a dent in my word count but after the thirty days I kept going with it and I now have a nearly completed manuscript. This year I'm taking on a whole new concept but I'm not all too stressed about it. And maybe that's where people are finding their insanity: the competition of it all.

But let's face facts: there's no penalty for losing but there's no prize for winning - other than a finished manuscript which isn't limited to the thirty days in November.

More than the writing, NaNoWriMo is about pushing yourself and getting the motivation to do something you love. It's the ultimate of New Year's Resolutions - except this time you have a whole community, both online and in person, of people who are starting on the same journey as you if on a slightly altered path - and everyone is actually here to support each other.

If you find your motivation or inspiration fading, you can literally turn around and find it with someone who's there to help - or at least give you a hug and tell you it's alright. How awesome is that? Not only do you get to write a novel, creating this magical world all by yourself, but you also get to meet people who are doing the same thing.

Reason Number Three why I love NaNoWriMo: the community. Yes you're on this epic journey of self discovery but you've got this army of people standing beside you so if you are doing NaNoWriMo this year (and in future years) take full advantage of that army. The first step is to start here:

And if you are doing NaNoWriMo this year, let me know and I will friend you and we will have awesome epic times together.

Now if you'll excuse me, I haven't written today and my fingers are just itching to get some of these scenes down.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck! I think you captured the essence of NaNoWriMo perfectly. I wish I could crank out 1667 words a day. I tried it last year and got about 5000 words done and just about gave myself an ulcer. LOL

    Still, I think it's an awesome event and I applaud everyone for jumping in and putting words on the page. :)