NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, and all around the world writers are busy planning and panicking in varying degrees. You may have seen them at it, and maybe you’re right there with them, plotting your next noveling adventure. But if you’re on the fence about joining the month-long party, I’m here to help push you in the right direction.
Why You Should Listen to Me
But first, an introduction. I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo since 2010, but a friend told me about it years before, when I was in high school. Back then I didn’t think I could write 50k words in one month, so I never even tried. Then I went off to college in 2007, and I was just way too busy to write that much in November (which is finals season)!
So what made me take the plunge? Pure, unadulterated spite. I took a creative writing class in the spring of 2010, and in it there was That Guy. You know the type, and if you don’t, just hop over to @GuyInYourMFA to get an idea of what I’m talking about. Anyway, this dude bragged about having won NaNoWriMo twice. I figured if that hack could do it, so could I. At this point I’d written tons of fiction but had never finished a novel.
November rolled around. I joined the NaNo website, connected with the local group, then, at 12:00 AM, November 1st, I started writing. By 11:59 PM, November 30th, I’d written 66,666 words, about 60k of which was a complete (albeit short) novel. The rest was a short story I worked on until nearly midnight, because one cannot simply stop writing during NaNo, at least not until you get to a nice pretty word-count like 66,666.
I’d done it. I’d written a novel–and finished! And while I did that, I’d also managed to turn in all my final papers for class. The feeling of finally finishing the first draft of a novel is hard to describe, but if you haven’t experienced it yet, let me try. You know all those people who have That Reaction when you tell them you’re a writer? When they smugly imply you’re wasting your time by the way they ask, “Oh, do you have a book out?” and they already know the answer. It’s like kicking every single one of those people in the shins at once, with the added satisfaction of having created something beautiful and perfect and finished (even though it is in fact not perfect or finished, but it feels like it in those moments, and that’s what counts.)
I’ve done NaNo every year since, and as you might expect, I’m somewhat evangelical about it.
Why You Should Do NaNo
There’s lots of reasons you should do NaNo, but they all boil down to: You have literally (hah!) nothing to lose, and an entire novel to gain.
If you try NaNo and only write a few thousand words, you’re still that much closer to writing The End. If you try NaNo and win, even if you don’t get to the end of your draft, you’re still 50k words closer.
What You Should Do Now
Head over to the NaNoWriMo site and join if you haven’t already. It only takes a few minutes. Make sure you join your local region, because if you’re lucky enough to be near a good group, they’ll be a huge help in getting you over the finish line.
Can you do NaNo without joining the site? Of course, but why would you? The site has a graph to track your writing progress, and these cute little achievements that, if I’m being honest, are sometimes the only reason I sit down to write some days in November. (So what if I’m tired and sick? I need that 30-day streak badge, dammit!)
But hey, whatever works, right? And that’s what NaNo is all about: getting you to sit down and write.
I’ll be talking about some handy things you can in October do to help prepare yourself for winning in November!