I confess that I’m a NaNoWriMo convert. I know that NaNoWriMo has been going for a while now and I used to wonder what all the fuss was about.
This year I took the plunge and decided to participate for the first time, and I haven’t regretted a minute of it. So I thought I’d share with you the TEN THINGS that NaNoWriMo has done for me.
Deadlines motivate – Last week I (blog url) mentioned about how easy it is to get distracted from your writing. NaNoWriMo has helped me to make my writing a priority again. It gave me a deadline to meet. It is a definite thing – not like the usual “I’m writing this book hoping that it will be published some years in the future.” When you don’t have a definite deadline to write to (ie your book has been scheduled for publication 12 months from now…I wish LOL) it can be good to have your own definite deadline to work to.
Forces you to make time for your writing – The group I am in, NaNoWriMo Warriors holds Word Wars at the same time every day. This is where you write for an hour and there are writers all around the world doing the same thing and at the end of the allotted time, you compare your word counts. It’s really fun and it doesn’t matter who wins – the idea is just to get you writing. And it gets you into a routine of writing at the same time every day – of setting aside time to write in your busy schedule.
Gets you to commit to a great idea that may have been lurking inside your head for a long time. I’ve had an idea for my story for about six years. I had a couple of false starts, but nothing I was happy with. NaNoWriMo made me commit to developing this idea further – and even though my first draft is pretty rough, it’s all there – out of my head and on paper.
Reminds you of who your competition really is. Sometimes it feels as if every second person you meet, even the celebrities (who I don’t actually get to meet) is writing a book and you are competing against all of them to get your book out there. It’s easy to become despondent. NaNoWriMo reminds you that the only person you are competing against is yourself – that your story is unique and that nobody else can tell it like you can.
Helps banish your internal editor. Most people have probably done free writing at some stage – you know where you get to write for 10 or 15 minutes and you have to keep writing without stopping and you come up with some really random thoughts – but some of them are amazing. That’s what NaNoWriMo did for me. It freed my thinking – gave me permission to just keep writing and worry about the rest later.
Puts routine into your writing. I found with NaNoWriMo it was best to try and stick with a regular goal. If you write 1700 words a day, you will have 51,000 words by the end of a month – pretty amazing, hey? Now if you are preening and polishing every word as you go, it’s going to be pretty hard to get the word counts you need. But if you don’t edit along the way, 50,000 words is more easily achievable than you might think and you’ll be amazed at how much your story moves forward if you don’t keep going back to change it.
As I’m writing, things pop into my head all the time about how the story needs fixing or developing in the next draft, but I just make notes in the margin and go back to it at the end.
A worldwide experience. You get to connect with people from all over the world and find out about international publishing trends. It’s really cool to be waking up and starting your work just as someone in some other part of the world is going to bed. It’s like having the writing baton passed to you.
But if you join a worldwide NaNoWriMo group you’ll find someone online almost 24/7 with words of encouragement and brainstorming ideas to help you get over the rough patches. I worked for years as an advertising copywriter for an agency and I have to say there’s nothing like having another creative mind to bounce ideas off to spark your own inspiration.
Acknowledges that your writing is important. Whether you get to 50,000 words or not, just being involved in NaNoWriMo is a great achievement.
Just participating in Nano has forced you to make a commitment to your writing. And that has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?
Next week on Tuesday Writing Tips, I’ll be giving my 10 best tips to carry on after NaNoWriMo – to use the skills, inspiration and contacts you’ve acquired to keep the words flowing in the future.
I’d really love to hear about your NaNoWriMo experience in the comments section of this post, and how it has helped you with your writing.