Aaaaand I’m back to my regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting schedule! Thanks for your patience during the downtime…
It’s that time of year again. Excited chatter is building across the Internet, preparations are being made, supplies are being bought. Yes, National Novel Writing Month is coming up.
You’ve probably heard of it, even if you haven’t participated. The goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November — 1,667 words a day. To support this goal, participants are encouraged to go to local in-person meet-ups or hang out on the website’s forums. The prize for finishing? A certificate and bragging rights — nothing more, nothing less.
But how do you know if NaNoWriMo is for you?
You might find NaNo to be helpful if you’re a writer and…
1. You want a kick in the pants to write more. NaNo can be extremely motivating, especially if you participate in the community aspect. There’s just something about knowing that thousands of other people are striving for the same goal — a magical writing energy. Something about NaNo enables writing time to appear out of nowhere. And if you don’t normally write at NaNo speeds, you might find yourself more connected to your novel.
2. You’re struggling with self-criticism (aka the Inner Editor). During NaNo, there’s no time to polish every line to perfection or question every plot point. If this strikes terror into your heart, don’t worry — you’re allowed to plan out your novel ahead of time, as long as you don’t actually start writing. You can also correct typos — just don’t get hung up on finding the perfect phrase. Learning to write through the Inner Editor can be incredibly freeing…and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be writing crap, either.
3. You’re struggling with motivation and burn-out. NaNo is a great time to experiment with a fresh idea or a new genre or technique. After all, it’s only a month, and you can get back to your real writing after it’s over. But you might just find yourself rejuvenated by trying something new.
You might also enjoy NaNo if you’ve never tried to write a novel and…
4. You’re afraid to take the next step. NaNo can be very freeing. It forces you to write without looking back. At the end of the month, you might have a mess, but you’ll still have raw material to work with. After all, you can’t edit a blank page. (Full disclosure: This was me in 2005. I’ve done NaNoWriMo every year since, and I haven’t looked back.)
5. You’ve always wanted to write but can’t find the time or motivation. NaNo forces you to find the time. You might be surprised how many spare hours are hiding in your week. 1,667 words a day is an hour and a half to two hours a day, depending on how fast you write — and there’s nothing to say you can’t write more on the weekends, for example, if that’s when you have more free time. NaNo proves that writing a novel is doable.
6. You’re looking for a community of writers to cheer you on. NaNoers are very supportive. They tend to skew young, but if you’re on the older side and are a little persistent, you can still find plenty of new friends on the forums or at your local NaNo events.
You might not want to do NaNo if…
7. You already write at NaNo speeds or more. If that’s the case, you might still enjoy the community aspect, but you won’t get the rush of a special month when you do what you don’t normally do.
8. You already know that NaNo doesn’t fit your writing method. Maybe your natural writing speed is slower, or you edit extensively during your first drafts. If you’re comfortable with your method and you know NaNo isn’t a good fit, more power to you!
9. You just can’t fit it into your life. If your life is crazy right now, don’t push it. NaNo is great, but other things can be more important — your mental health, schoolwork, family, work, and so on. Maybe next year there will be space for a month that’s all about writing.
If you’re still not sure, why not modify the challenge? Here’s a post I wrote last year: 5 Ways to Make NaNoWriMo Work For You.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Why or why not?