It’s the middle of October which means we are just weeks away from the start of my favorite time of the year, National Novel Writing Month or as the cool kids call it NaNo. For those of you that don’t know, NaNo is a non-profit organization that puts on writing challenges throughout the year. The biggest of these happens in November where participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. For those of you that don’t live and die by word counts my novel, Crystal and Flint, is 84,000 words and 325 pages and it pretty standard for most science fiction novels. So a 50,000 word novel is a relatively short novel. It breaks down to write 1,667 words every day or about 6-7 pages a day. Its challenging for sure but absolutely doable.
There is a lot of NaNo hate out there in the world, but I’m not going into that. It’s fair to say that NaNo isn’t right for everyone and a lot of the haters out there are missing the point of the event, at least as far as I’m concerned. So, here are the two biggest reasons why I love NaNo.
Deadlines, Goals, and Competition
I know that the best chance I have to be successful is to have a deadline. I set them for myself throughout the year, but if I’m being honest, it’s really easy push a deadline when the only person I have to be accountable to is myself. Nano takes that option out of my hands. There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world all working towards the same deadline. This additional sense of accountability really pushes me to stay motives and productive throughout the month.
I’m also a competitive person who hates failure. So even though NaNo is a completely free, self-challenge, I still want to win and I want to win badly. There’s an amazing amount of price that comes along with completing NaNo. There’s really nothing better than submitting your final word count on the site and getting your winner prizes. It’s a rush that’s hard to come by in writing.
The main reason I participate in NaNo is for the sense of community it provides. Writing can be a really lonely and isolating pastime. NaNo makes writing a team sport. Once you sign up you have access to their forums where you can connect with other writers all over the world. People who fully understand how hard it is to write a novel and how awesome hitting the milestones along the way are. From my experience the writers on NaNo are some of the most supportive and encouraging people I’ve ever met.
In fact, I’ve met some of my favorite people in the entire world by participating in NaNo. I met the other five founding members of The Cabin in the Woods Association in a thread on the NaNo forums. From there we decided to form out own cabin for Camp NaNoWriMo (because yes there are virtual writing camps that happen twice are year), which lead to us creating our own private forum and finally a chatroom server. Over a year later and I get to talk to the amazing women on a daily basis. We’ve formed life long bonds of friendship and I have an amazing support structure that keeps me going whenever the thought of throwing in the towel.
And that’s just the online community. During the month of November there in person write-ins that happen all over the world. My region, NaNoWriMoTown, is amazing. There are parties and write-ins all month long where people of all over Metro Detroit get together and write. Can you imagine how motivating it is to be in a room full of other writers doing the same crazy challenge as you are?
That’s why I love NaNo. After 30 crazy days I walk away with a rough first draft of a novel that I can build off of, amazing friendships, and an incredible sense of accomplishment. So, if you ever thought about writing a book, there’s no better time than National Novel Writing Month. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and join in on the fun.