It’s that time of year where I’m flooded with phone calls from panicked writers who are trying desperately to prepare for NaNoWriMo. For me, the end of October is always filled with these kinds of last-minute coaching sessions, in which I talk writers down from the ledge and convince them that all will be okay and that they CAN make it through NaNo.
From all these years doing all these frantic phone calls with writers, I have noticed a pattern. Writers who have done NaNo before definitely seem to have an easier time of it, because they already know the thing that first-timers have to learn on their own:
If you’re a writer you know what it’s like to have a “writer’s brain.” You meet people for one second and get caught up fantasizing about their life stories. Your imagination goes into overdrive just from hearing a song on the radio. You get so attached to characters in books that you have extreme emotional reactions whenever anything bad happens to them.
Your brain never stops moving. It never stops plotting, dreaming, building, investigating, and finding new roads to travel down.
This is the blessing of being a writer—and the curse.
I first heard about NaNoWriMo in 2009, and at that time, I didn’t know what to think about it. It seemed like a crazy thing to do. As I talked to more writers about their feelings on NaNo I realized how many loved it…and how many hated it. I couldn’t say that I felt either, but I was suspicious. Did it work? Was it worth it? And maybe most importantly, were the results any good?
Five years later I get it.
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.