Monday, November 16, 2020

My 12 Top Reasons for Loving NaNoWriMo (Even if I Can't Join in This Year)

Here we are: halfway through National Novel Writing Month, the greatest novel writing challenge on earth; 50,000 words in thirty days. If I wasn't so absorbed with polishing my final draft of Ghazal, I'd be right in the thick of things, too, armed with my favorite fountain pen and a brand new journal.

Sitting out this year, however, doesn't mean I'm ignoring the website, one of the best resources writers have for discovering fresh advice, solid encouragement, and a wide array of writing tools. And for anyone who's sitting on the fence wondering it they should have signed up, well, go for it! Even if there are only two weeks left, you can still have more fun than a barrel of monkeys because:

  1. You can write for yourself. Completely, indulgently, luxuriously, unashamedly. Who cares if your manuscript gets published, or rejected, or even liked by someone else? Just write and use the month to please yourself and no one else.
  2. It's a unique opportunity to experiment. Always wanted to write a murder mystery? A novel in verse? A dystopian literary romance? Here's your chance. Go for it.
  3. When you decide to join the NaNoWriMo community you join as a writer, not a "wannabe," a word I've never really liked much, but one that many new writers wrongly apply to themselves. If you're putting words on paper, you're a writer. NaNoWriMo gives you your credentials.
  4. You can write the most overblown, purple-tinged, excessively detailed info drops and descriptions without a twinge of discomfort. The wordier the better. Why? Well, to start with you need the words, as many as possible, in order to achieve your daily word count. More importantly however, the longer and crazier you can make your sentences and paragraphs, the more certain you are to hit pay dirt when you edit. Writing in minute detail the contents of your main character's closet, for instance, will give you more information than you would ever dream of including in a final, edited draft, but it may give you the hidden gun or stolen armadillo shell that will propel your plot, conflict, and motivation into a bestseller.
  5. NaNoWriMo is an opportunity to discover how much free time you really do have to write a novel. If you can find the time to write during November, you can find the time to write all year long. Small sacrifices such as reducing the time you spend on social media sites or binge watching television programs add up to big gains. Thirty minutes here, ten there, it's all waiting for you to seize and use for writing time.
  6. 2020 may take the cake for being one of the most challenging years of our lives, but that doesn't mean we get a free pass to wallow and stare out the window. Taking part in NaNoWrimo 2020 may be one of the most positive and productive things you've been able to do all year. No one can ever lock you down or restrict your creativity.
  7. Breaking away from the need to be entertained during these difficult times is good for your brain and self-esteem. Taking charge and creating your own entertainment rather than being a passive viewer is good for your overall emotional, physical, and mental health. Focusing on your creativity rather than the many things you may fear or feel you can't do is one of the best "vitamin supplements" on the market.
  8. NaNoWriMo is a community. 2020 participants may not be able to gather in the all-day, late-night socializing and group write-ins of past years, but they can certainly share and converse with each other through a variety of forums, not the least being the actual NaNoWriMo site itself. Make new friends!
  9. When you are free to experiment without expectations you have permission to express and discover what you don't like about writing or what you don't like to write. For decades you may have been dreaming about writing a medieval romance set in France, but after two weeks in you may find you detest "happily ever after" and your real passion is hard-boiled true crime. Great! Toss France out the window and go for murder on the high seas with a dash of larceny for luck, the story that truly feeds your soul.
  10. On the other hand, though, if medieval France turns out to seriously be your thing, NaNoWriMo lets you go full immersion. Spending quality time on research, language studies, and even travel plans for the future to add realistic details to your story can set the stage for a productive and engaging 2021.
  11. Whether you write 100,000 words or five pages during the month of November, you will have something to show at the end of the day. Something that with a little dedication and discipline can be turned into a real, live manuscript.
  12. And best of all, even if you started out on the NaNoWriMo path with the intention to just play, guess what? You've got the makings of a book! Which is how many of the best published books you've ever read started out, a little idea that made history.

Tip of the Day: If for some reason you're like me and can't participate in NaNoWriMo this year, you can always plan ahead for next year. Start a file folder with ideas, writing prompts, and magazine cut-outs so that you'll be raring to go for 2021!