How NaNoWriMo Can Change Your Writing Life

National Novel Writing Month has something for writers of every personality type. Tight deadlines for those who work well under pressure, well-deserved admiration for those who thrive by having their talents recognized, and the freedom to work with or without an outline, according to individual creative taste.

But NaNoWriMo offers more than the promise of high word counts and the possibility of actually finishing a whole novel in one month. Taking on the challenge changes writers in unexpected ways, working its magic under the surface while you’re busy writing your 50,000 words…

NaNoWriMo Builds Community
A huge part of the journey is keeping track of your daily word count and sharing your progress. Writers do this through Facebook, Twitter, their own writing blogs, and various other social media outlets. But the really cool thing that happens as writers talk about their hurdles and breakthroughs is that cheerleaders jump in to give support. So even the writers who don’t partake in the actual challenge still get engaged by shouting their rallying cries from the sidelines.

At the end of the arduous month of warrior-pace writing, most NaNo writers come out of it with more writer friends than when they began. This alone is reason enough to try your hand at writing an entire novel in one month. The connections you make with others have the potential to keep blossoming far down the road.

NaNoWriMo Builds Confidence
Insecurity about our talent plagues a lot of writers. We worry that we’re not capable of writing anything longer than a short story, or that we’ll never do the work required to get our brilliant idea out of our head and down onto the page. NaNoWriMo forces writers to work past these fears. When we start out with a specific deadline to meet a specific word count each day, we just don’t have time to focus on our doubts. The human brain only has so much room it can devote to anything at one time. The steady pressure of NaNo squeezes out any leftover room that might be devoted to insecurity.

At the end of the month writers can look at the pages they’ve racked up and see the physical evidence of their writing strength and skill. The finished product is undeniable proof that we are capable of doing the work, once we push ourselves to sit our butt down in the chair and get it done.

NaNoWriMo Builds Creativity
A writer’s creative spark sometimes feels elusive and ethereal, but in reality it’s actually a muscle. That’s why it’s so hard to get started again when we’ve taken a long time off writing. When the muscle is weak it needs to be worked and toned to get its mojo back. NaNoWriMo is like a personal trainer for your creative muscle. And it expects that muscle to show up every day at the gym and work at full capacity. Everyone wants awesome biceps, but no one really has that much fun doing push-ups. NaNoWriMo is the trainer standing over you reminding you of all the good reasons you’re doing those push-ups in the first place.

At the end of the intense NaNoWriMo journey, writers will see a definite improvement in their ability to manufacture new ideas, and more strength in their perseverance when it comes to sketching out complete storylines and scenes. Because their creative muscle will feel so taut and in-shape, they’ll want to work it more, and definitely show it off.

NaNoWriMo begins November 1 and goes until the end of the month. If you’re thinking about joining the challenge this year, or you’re interested in following along as a cheerleader you can:

Check out the NaNoWriMo Official Website
Like the NaNoWriMo Facebook Page
Follow NaNoWriMo on Twitter
Find Your NaNoWriMo Region for local events and news

I’ll be following along myself this year as a cheerleader to all NaNoWriMo writers. Good luck everyone and let’s make this a November to remember!

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  • Reply hukacanhaka 18 October, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Thanks heaps for posting this Lauren. I have one week left in the field, researching in the US, before flying back to New Zealand to analyse my findings. I have been feeling a bit stink about ways to keep my creative energy flowing when I get home. I feel anxious about the life that I have left behind, but also the life I imagine I have created for myself. Reading your post gave me a good kick up the proverbial, and now I have a new challenge for myself. I really enjoy how inspiring and positive your posts are. Thanks a million!!!

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 18 October, 2013 at 11:00 am

      Thank YOU for leaving such a kind and inspiring comment! So glad I could be of help to your creative muse in any way 🙂

  • Reply Maria M 18 October, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you for helping to spread the good nanowrimo news. I confirm everything you said and some more. I discovered a lot about myself during the last three nano challenges.
    It helped to set a daily target – word target.
    As you said in your post others from our region cheered me on and our write ins were interesting, I met some amazing people.
    Sorry I’m raving a bit. Thank you for posting.. and wish me luck for november 1st.

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 18 October, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Good luck Maria! I will definitely be rooting for you 🙂

  • Reply Paul Sutton Reeves 18 October, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I’m not a fan of the whole NaNo thing, Lauren, so don’t look at my blog posts in November! You nearly sold it to me there, though, with your enthusiasm…

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 18 October, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      My writing group just got into a pro vs. con debate about NaNo today on Facebook, it’s so interesting to hear both points of view! I never got into it in years past, but this year I decided to be a cheerleader for a few of my writer friends and observe their journey through the process. I’m fascinated to hear the reasons writers have for getting totally into it, and being totally turned off by it.

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 18 October, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      And Paul, I am TOTALLY going to be reading your November blog posts anyway. I’m hooked now!

  • Reply Paul Sutton Reeves 19 October, 2013 at 3:18 am

    I ranted my various objections last November and shall be posting a link to it this time around. It strikes me as contrary to everything writing ought to be, opposed to craft and creativity, the twin pillars upon which novels should be built. If people wish to take part that’s fine but I suspect I wouldn’t wish to read the results! Your support for other writers is laudable, though. And thanks for supporting my blog too, Lauren.

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 21 October, 2013 at 9:31 am

      I’ll definitely check out your link. I’m really getting into the debate about it. It seems to touch a nerve with a lot of writers, whether “for” or “against” and I’m intensely intrigued by anything that strikes a nerve. I’ll be very interested to read your piece Paul!

  • Reply Marie Ann Bailey 20 October, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks for this post, Lauren. I am a NaNoWriMo fan and will be participating in November. But it’s definitely not for everyone. Still, I really don’t understand why some people are anti-NaNoWriMo. Really, if it’s not your cup of tea, then don’t join. Seems simple. But I appreciate how you point out the positives about NaNoWriMo. And thanks, too, for the cheerleading 🙂

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 21 October, 2013 at 9:32 am

      You are very welcome! And I’m following your blog so I will definitely be keeping up with your updates. Good luck!

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