Wednesday, November 23, 2011


If you aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every year during the month of November and there are thousands and thousands of participants who take up the challenge of writing a novel (or at least 50,000 words of a novel) during the 30 days of November. Last year I participated and completed the goal, and this year, I am a mere 5000 words from completion once again. I intend to make it a yearly exercise.

There are people who absolutely support NaNoWriMo and what it stands for, and there are those who do not. As you can tell, I believe that it is a fantastic tool for the budding author and I would encourage anyone who has always wanted to write a book to participate.

Here are my top 5 Reasons to undertake NaNoWriMo.

1. Writing aside, it is important to achieve a goal.

When you decide to seriously undertake something and you see it through, it builds confidence. 50,000 words in 30 days is an aggressive goal that requires sacrifice and dedication to the task. It takes dogged pursuit.  One may be required to stay in on a weekend and hammer through a tough passage or to stay up later than you should to meet a daily word count. It takes heart and resolve. This, I think, is the most important thing that NaNoWriMo can provide you as a participant. It creates a tight deadline, and a steep, yet attainable goal. Speaking from experience, regardless of what a person writes, if someone manages to put an idea of this size into words they will realize that they can in fact do that which they set out to do. In any life goal, that is valuable.

2. There is no other way to become a writer than to begin writing.

Have you always wanted to become an author? Are there stories rolling in your head that have been jumbled and cumbersome in your mind for years? If you never write them down, then you will never be a writer. I'm not speaking of publishing or fame or any of those things. I am speaking only of the simple fact that in order to become an author, you must in fact, author something. NaNoWriMo was a catalyst for me to truly begin putting my thoughts on paper. I wrote short stories for years. Small pieces of larger works went unfinished. I wrote, but I did not feel like a writer. It transformed a dalliance into a passion. If you complete NaNoWriMo once, only once, then you have at least written a book. From then on, it is no longer something you hope to someday accomplish. It is something you have already accomplished. Think about how much easier it becomes to do something after you've already proven to yourself that it can be done.

3. There is no other way to become a good writer than to first be a bad writer.

I am not a prodigal wordsmith. I am not even what I would consider a good one. I am merely starting down my path. I hope that one day my writing will be good but I feel as though it will never be as good as I wish it to be. That is fine. You may have heard before that the only certain way to fail is to refuse to try. The pursuit of writing is accurately described in that proverb. I can't promise you that you'll be the next great author, but I can promise that the only way to get better is to practice. NaNoWriMo provides an excellent opportunity to gain experience in organizing your thoughts and choosing your words quickly. 

4. Legitimization of your craft.

Let me paint a picture for you and tell me if it seems familiar. You want to write. You have written stories before, in fact. Maybe you have even written a novel or a novella. Perhaps it stems from expressing feelings and ideas in school or maybe you simply love to write. Maybe you never show your work to anyone or maybe you have a few friends and relatives that absolutely love your work. They are always complimentary and they encourage you to keep writing. That is a wonderful thing. Even so, you feel like you are the only one out there who hopes for more. You feel like there's no one else in the world who understands the difficulties of your art. You also wonder whether you're ever going to be a real writer. An Author. When you start your NaNoWriMo journey, you'll meet other people in your area who are doing the same things. Who feel and understand the same things. When you see that there are others who want to accomplish similar goals, you will be bolstered and encouraged. I know that I was.

5. You encourage creativity and literacy.

This may be the best part. NaNoWriMo accepts donations to get youth involved in writing. I remember when I was young. I remember being challenged creatively. I remember my mind being brought to life by authors who created worlds. I lived in those worlds. I played there and eventually that wasn't enough. I wanted to make my own. Whether or not I ever publish a single story, I get to visit fantastic places and know incredible characters. All I need it a little imagination and a pencil. NaNoWriMo gets that and they are paying it forward. Get involved, write and encourage others to do the same.

NaNoWriMo does not worry about editing or preparing your work. That can all come in December. First, you must write the story. Thanks to the motivation of NaNoWriMo, I finished my first book. Will it be some world famous best seller? Probably not. But again, that is perfectly alright. I wrote the book be it good, bad or unreadable. 

Having finished NaNoWriMo, I never have to say "someday".


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