November is the month for finally writing that novel you dreamed about! Today’s guest post is a thoughtful piece that is sure to excite all aspiring novelists, like myself, because it talks about NaNoWriMo. Take it away, Audra.
What is NaNoWriMo?
If you haven’t heard, November is a special month for writers. On November 1st, all over the world, writers buckle down for a month of intensive writing, hoping to start and finish a brand new novel. It’s called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, and the goal is to write 50,000 words of a new novel before the month is up.
It’s a fantastic, prolific, stressful, terrible, amazing time. Clubs have formed around the world, and October has been requisitioned to Preptober, the time of preparing for NaNoWriMo.
I started my own NaNoWriMo journey in 2015 after I had just moved to Korea. I was in a new place, with new rules and new friends and thought it was the perfect time to start this new endeavor. Some people may think that would be way too much to handle, but it really was the perfect time for me. Without a solid routine or social life in place, I was able to dedicate the hours I needed, and I finished my first ever novel. I’d written hundreds of scenes and starters before, but that was the year I finished for the very first time and decided I wanted to be an author.
And I’ve been winning ever since. You “win” by completing the novel and updating your word count on the website. You even get a certificate saying you’ve won!
How It’s Changed Me As a Writer
Before NaNoWriMo, I had been a casual writer at best, blogging occasionally, journaling on and off…but never actually taking the time and dedication to sit and finish anything. I had lots and lots of ideas, but the idea of completing a story seemed daunting. Overwhelming. NaNoWriMo made it easy in that there’s a specific word count, so you have a concrete goal as well as a deadline, and you’re not supposed to edit the story at all. This is important because if you spend time editing, you’ll lose not only the flow of your story but also time and word count. Editing comes later.
Through my years of NaNoWriMo, I’ve learned this – but it’s still not easy. It’s not easy to not read what you’ve written the day before, but just continue plugging away. It’s not easy to silence the Inner Editor and write what you know full well is crap, but leave it for later. It’s not easy to jump ahead and write a scene you think of, then go back and write before it, watching it move down the page until its turn. But NaNoWriMo gave me discipline. It gave me hope and a feeling of enormous possibility. I’ve finished three stories. I can do it. I can be an author.
So NaNoWriMo, for me, means hope. It means proving myself, to myself.
Tips and Trick From an Introverted NaNo-er
When I was in Korea, there were a lot of meetups of the local NaNo region. I was close enough to go, but I never did. I prefer to write in solitude. Noise, people moving about, really anything other than peaceful music distracts me too much.
But when I came back to America and decided to join NaNoWriMo once again, I wanted to try out the communal writing thing. Mostly I wanted to meet other writers to help me in the months outside of NaNo when my editing fervor inevitably died away.
I haven’t yet been to any meetups due to my work schedule, but I did attend a virtual write-in hosted by the NaNo youtube channel. And for an introvert like me, it was a perfect social experiment. Basically, the host streams live while watchers chat in and ask questions and talk about writing. The host will also start “sprints,” short bursts of time where everyone sits quietly and we all write together. The sprints are short, about five to fifteen minutes, and the host may also give prompts to help stuck writers.
It was very, very fun. True, in an hour-long write-in we only wrote for about twenty minutes, and so I got less work done, but the community aspect was invigorating. It was nice to sit and see other people writing, even online, and then talk about what we’d just written all together.
So my advice for anyone wanting to do NaNoWriMo and be social but who is also very introverted – attend a virtual write-in first. See how you do writing with virtual people, and then see if you can attend one in person. That’s my plan, anyway.
NaNoWriMo has been a huge part of my life for the past three years, and it will continue to be so. It’s helped me as a writer and as a creative. Best of luck to all my fellow NaNos, and happy writing!