Why I Participate In NaNoWriMo Every Year
For writers, any excuse to engage in the craft is welcomed. Everyone has busy lives and sometimes finding the time to write can be difficult. Jobs, family responsibilities, school activities, and countless other unplanned detours can derail planned writing time. Let’s face it: life happens, and many times unpredictable circumstances arise.
So why engage in an activity which adds even more pressure to an already packed schedule? This year, our family has undergone some major life changes that have greatly impacted our schedules. A family member asked me if I was going to participate in the yearly NaNoWriMo challenge. When I answered in the affirmative, their response was the very encouraging, “You don’t have time for that.”
Someone wise and ancient once said that you always make time for what’s important for you (thanks, Dad). It is a universal truth that the things that mean more to you naturally take priority in your life. That is why writers have so much scheduling conflict, especially if they have families. Family is important to me. I tend to put all of their needs above my need to write, so a balance needs to be achieved.
Why do I carve out a whole month during the busiest season of the year in my life? Some would mutter under their breath “insanity,” or possibly inhaling too many fumes from my red pen while grading papers but I assure you, there are better reasons than that at play.
1. Just Write
Writing is easy. Revision and editing are hard work. As all writers know, just blurting out a story on the page means only about 25% of the work is done. After the eruption of creativity occurs, the task of revising and editing must take place. Sometimes it can be tedious. One reason to love NaNoWriMo is to be able to write for a month and not worry about revising and editing. At least not yet.
2. Get The Flow Going
In a writing rut? NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to branch out and experiment. Don’t like how a character arc is developing? No worries; just write it again. Want to experiment with purple cats that have telepathic power and need to save the universe? Try it. The idea is to write and get the creative juices freshly flowing. It isn’t the time to worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax, diction, plot arc, character development. It is time to let all your ideas and creativity pour out onto the page, unrestricted and unchecked.
3. Join A Community
Being part of a community of writers has endless benefits. The forums on the NaNoWriMo website have many great prompts and discussions that will help your writing to move to the next level. Sometimes there are challenges. One of my favorites has to do with bringing out the ninjas in your writing. In other words, make something unexpected happen. Need some dialogue help? Need feedback on a character? Need help in knowing whether you should be using affect or effect? Being part of the community means you have access to a great wealth of information and encouragement.
4. Build Self-Discipline
This is probably the biggest reason for me this year. I have allowed writing to take a much lower priority in my life than I like. The discipline of writing every day, even if I don’t quite hit the 1667 words per day quota, is excellent for my own writing morale. I’m ashamed to admit that I have gotten away from writing consistently. I write in a journal almost daily, but that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about writing or editing publishable work. This year’s run at the 50K challenge is dedicated to bringing back a solid writing routine. And so far, after a little over a week into it, it feels heavenly. No more excuses. Busyness happens. I have read that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. In my case, I’m reinstating an old habit. NaNoWriMo is one month long, so if I am faithful during the challenge, my renewed habit of writing every day will be firmly established.
There are many more wonderful reasons to partake in the NaNoWriMo challenge. For me, the reasons above are enough to forgo sleep, overload my system on caffeine and chocolate, lose touch with my immediate family, and forfeit my sanity for thirty days. As a result, I offer my sincerest apologies in advance to anyone who has the unfortunate opportunity to be in contact with me while I am distracted, slightly deranged and derailed from reality during the journey.