7 Reasons for doing NaNoWriMo this year!
If you haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Except it’s now an international community of writers coming together on the internet to do the impossible: write 50,000 words in one month!
I did in 2013. It wasn’t easy. It required strict routine and determination to keep going day after day. But looking at the finished word count, was one of the best things I could have done for myself that year.
Doing NaNoWriMo gave me a ton of new writing, a lot of new ideas and clarity on where I was going with my book.
But I never had any illusions that it wasn’t more than writing a first draft.
I am doing it again this year together with the Hoi An Writers Group.
Here are 7 reasons why you should join me this year.
1. Learn to write quickly
This is an essential skill any writer needs to have.
I’ve always regretted not doing that internship in a German newsroom 30 years ago. If anything, it would have taught me to write fast.
But there are different ways I’ve tricked myself into writing faster. Right now it’s by promising my readers to deliver a blog post once a week.
I know that doing NaNoWriMo will teach me how to get even faster at this game.
Writing 1660 words per day, or 2000 if you want to skip a couple, will teach you like nothing else how to write fast.
Even if the draft you produce by the end of November ends up in your personal slush pile, it will have taught you an essential skill every writer needs.
2. Learn to write quantity
This goes against everything I tell my students. I am forever going on about the importance of killing your darlings – be ruthless and wield a machete. Cut out anything that’s even vaguely superfluous.
So why am I advocating you learn to write quantity?
Because doing NaNoWriMo will teach you to kill your darlings with greater confidence. Once you’ve written 50,000 words in one month, you become aware of your potential as a writer.
If you can write that many words in November, you know that you can write something solid and substantial in one month if really set your mind to it.
The way to get better at writing is to write lots. That in itself is reason enough to sign up right now!
3. Set yourself a measurable goal
Writing 50,000 words in one month sounds difficult and I won’t lie, it’s not easy. But it’s a tangible and measurable goal which thousands around the world achieve each November. Doing it, will be a huge boost to your confidence.
Unlike the book you’ve been meaning to write for years but never seem to get around to, you will actually write this one. Or at least, you’ll write the very rough first draft of it. In one month. It’s a measurable and achievable goal.
I’ve done it. You can do it.
Word counts can’t be a writer’s measure of success, we all agree on that. But let me tell you, the sense of satisfaction each day, when you upload your daily word count is the best confidence booster. Watching your words grow, like money in the bank, is priceless.
4. Create a routine
I meet a lot of people who love the idea of writing, but who don’t ever really do it outside of my workshops, because, you know, life gets in the way.
I was one of those writers. But I’ve finally cured myself. It was a long process. I am a recovering procrastinator.
What got me to stop finding ways not to write and to just get on with it, was a routine.
As any self-help guru will tell you, the only way to get anywhere with your writing (or any skill for that matter) is by having a regular routine.
Like clockwork, no ifs no buts. Doing NaNoWriMo will reset your bio-rhythm. A daily routine means writing has a chance to become part of you.
5. Doing NaNoWriMo will teach you the importance of moving forward
Have you ever been stuck in an endless revision of the same piece? It’s like treading water on the spot. I spent a whole year once polishing the same two chapters. Over and over. I never moved forward and the two chapters ended up in the bin. Overthinking and over-editing had killed them.
The fast pace of NaNoWriMo doesn’t leave much time for the pesky inner critic to stop you in your tracks. Doing NaNoWriMo will give you precious forward momentum.
6. Be part of a community of writers
Writing is a solitary business. It doesn’t suit everybody to spend many hours alone toiling in silence over sentences that don’t want to flow.
Writing can be pure agony and there is a lot of comfort in doing it together and knowing that you are not alone in this lonely business.
It’s also very energising to be part of a community of writers. My Hoi An Writers Group is bursting with creative energy at the moment. Everybody is on a forward trajectory. There is movement and momentum. Many of us are seriously working on books.
Belonging to a community has energised all of us.
But don’t worry, you won’t be sharing your writing during NaNoWriMo, unless you want to. You’ll just be sharing your daily word count with others.
7. Doing NaNoWriMo will teach you how to write garbage
Don’t be under any illusion that you will have written a novel by the end of November. The 50,000 words you write, will be nothing but a rough first draft. Possibly only of a part of your book.
And that’s ok. The books we read all started as a series of drafts. You too will have to write many drafts before your book will ever even land on the desk of a publisher.
The first draft is the hardest to write. That’s because it’s mostly garbage. If you want to move forward in your writing, you’ll have to accept that shitty first draft. Doing NaNoWriMo will be a great way to learn how to tolerate your own crappy writing.
So, are you in?
If you want to join me and my group, join me in the comments below and I’ll add you to the team.