Next month over 300,000 writers will attempt to smash out 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month, or as it is more affectionately known, NaNoWriMo. Both amateur and professional writers are encouraged to join in the fun and reach that magical 50,000 word mark, so to proudly don the ‘winners’ badge with pride and satisfaction.
This will be my fourth consecutive attempt at NaNo. In 2012, I ended up with 31,000 words of my current work in progress which is now almost at final draft stage. The next year was a total fail. I’m not sure how many words I got down, but the words fizzled out, and I was left with a skeleton of an idea that I soon realised needed to be put to rest.
Last year, I actually won! Yes, I reached the 50,000 word milestone, which was indeed satisfying. But even more so was the result; a manuscript in progress that I know can become a great story. It’s in second draft stage at the moment and I’m looking forward to working on it further next year. And as for this year, my story idea is a little loose but it is coming together and I’m ready to put fingers on keys on November 1st and see what happens.
So if you’re contemplating whether or not NaNo is for you, I thought I’d share three great reasons why you should.
1. The words
Blogger, writer, and author of The Mapmaker Chronicle’s trilogy, the wise and wonderful Allison Tait, has some wonderful advice when it comes to NaNo. She believes NaNo shouldn’t be about winning or losing, instead, think of it as, whatever words you have at the end of November, is more than you had at the start. This has become my mantra.
Sure, the more words the better, but the focus should be on getting whatever words out that you can. NaNo forces you to make time each day and write, but whether you reach the magic figure of 1,667 words each day required for the end goal, is irrelevant. As long as you write something, it’s better than nothing.
2. Smash out that first draft
The favourite part of writing journey so far, is the feeling of smashing out a first draft. And NaNo is great for doing just that. During NaNo, editing as you go isn’t possible. After all, the time you sit down to write should be increasing your word count, nothing else. Which I think is great, it keeps the momentum going. There is no pressure to edit or make what you have written perfect. Nor do you have time to think about if a plot line is working or characters well-developed. You simply write.
As I move through the editing and rewriting process over the past couple of years, I now realise there is plenty of time for editing later. But you can’t edit or rewrite unless you have a story down in the first place. And NaNo is perfect for getting it down. The other thing to remember is that any writing is honing your skills and tightening your writing. Each and every time.
3. Flesh out an idea
If you have an idea that you think will make a great story, you won’t really know until you sit down and write it. NaNo is perfect for fleshing an idea out into narrative to see if it has legs. As in 2013, my idea really wasn’t a keeper, but I would never have known unless I’d taken the time to get it written. You can plot away, make notes and get bogged down into the depths of the story but until you come to write it out fully, you will never know.
I don’t look at my 2013 effort as wasted. It was writing practice, it showed me the idea wasn’t ready, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll look at it again with fresh eyes and new inspiration?
So there you have it. NaNo isn’t for everyone. Some find it just too much pressure, but if you think it could work for you, I’d say just give it a shot. Really, you’ve got nothing to lose.
Other NaNoWriMo posts I’ve written: