October is the lead up to the annual craziness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For those not familiar with NaNoWriMo, the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel starting November 1 and ending November 30. I completed NaNoWriMo last year and it was so much fun that I am finding it hard to resist this year.
Why would anyone set a goal of writing 50,000 words in a month? For me, it was just to see if I could do it. I have no problem coming up with stories, my problem was not putting writing first.
So many other things in our lives compete for out attention: partners, children, work, pets, television, movies, books, sports, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. What NaNoWriMo did was force me to keep to a schedule. In order to finish I had to make my word goal for the week, no matter what. I learned to let things go, to not stress about anything except getting words on paper during the month of November.
It helped that my partner was traveling for most of the month of November, so I had evenings free after the kids went to sleep. I created an outline and some character sketches, as well as a daily word/weekly word count calendar before the contest started. I was not able to attend any of the local meetings with other participants, but was supported by a robust on-line community, and another friend that was doing NaNoWriMo.
I was asked by a fellow writer “Why? Why do it? What will you get out of it?”
I thought that I would just get the satisfaction of meeting a goal, and having 50,000 words to work with, but I ended up with so much more by completing NaNoWriMo.
I had a fun. Real, honest to goodness fun, writing. I did not edit myself. I didn’t worry about what anyone would think. I just kept going, and did not look back.
I had not written that freely in years. I remembered how to write fast. Something I had learned writing my master’s thesis and forgotten.
If you are a writer, or think you would like to be, give NaNoWriMo a shot. If you don’t make your goal, you are the only one who will know. If you finish your novel, you get so much more than just a cool computer badge that says that you did.
NaNoWriMo is a great organization that encourages and supports creative writing for kids and adults. Check out their website http://nanowrimo.org and sign up while you are at it. I will be cheering for you.