The Gift of NaNoWriMo

With Camp NaNoWriMo approaching many are gearing up for another month of turning their writing up to eleven. Others however, are on the fence or don’t see the point. I’ve done NaNo for four years now, mostly November, and this last year is the only one I’ve won.  This time, I realized something about the NaNo that has really helped my writing as a whole.

As early as September you start to see the posts and find the articles about NaNoWriMo and all it has to offer, as well as reasons that it’s a not worth it. I have my own complaints about the process too, but there are some amazing benefits, including one that I only realized this year.

I did NaNoWriMo for three years unsuccessfully. I didn’t even get close. I always thought November was a terrible month to choose, mostly because my in-laws visit for a week and it’s hard to find the time when you have visitors. Aside from that though, a major reason that I never made it past 20k was that I didn’t let myself really get into it.

I didn’t really join the community. I put my project out there, with a screen name I couldn’t be identified with and a profile picture that left me unrecognizable. I never shared on Facebook what I was doing and mostly hid my activities. I was too scared to let anyone know that I wanted to write a novel, let alone that I was doing it during some crazy internet event with a weird name.

This year though, I actually went to the in-person regional gatherings, told my social media connections what I was up to, and even told my in-laws I needed to excuse myself to go write. I made it part of my life in a way I hadn’t before.

This is my main point. The community aspect of NaNo is awesome and I truly needed that to make it through. Budding friendships and a little amiable competitiveness go a long way. And I made writing every day a habit, sort of. (My main gripe about NaNo is that we have a goal and make unsustainable concessions in our lives in order to reach that goal. Once November is over however, we cannot usually continue on that intense path. We do need sleep most months. Most of us have day jobs and family to spend time with. Writing is a full-time job on its own. We need to make sustainable adjustments to our lives in order to fit it in. But I digress)

Aside from those benefits, I made writing part of my life. I told my friends, real friends, not just #writerscommunity on Twitter, that I wrote 50k words. I got help from my family with babysitting and made it clear to them how important this was to me. By making all those concessions and making them publicly, I announced my intent to be a writer and to get this stuff done even after November was over, even if I had to adjust my strategy going forward.

This is the real gift if NaNoWriMo. Telling the world, and telling yourself, that you are in it for the long haul. You will be an author one day and you are definitely a writer now.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

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