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.
Do you remember last November? Do you miss that heady rush of racing through thousands of words each day, and the thrill of seeing the page count rise as you chased down the dream? Did you fall in love with your main character? Were you filled with triumph—or crestfallen—around Thanksgiving when it became glaringly apparent that you only had a few days left to win the challenge?
If you’re a writer then you already know I’m talking about NaNoWriMo. And if you completed the challenge then I’m willing to bet that you have that sloppy first draft manuscript shoved away in a drawer somewhere. You said you were going to get to it, clean it up and edit it and really make something out of it because you know it has promise…but somehow the days slipped away and now here we are at the end of March and you still haven’t touched it.
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.
Writing a novel is a big undertaking. All those words! My friends and family have said to me. How do you have it in you to write all those pages? But the word count is the least of a writer’s concerns. There’s also plot structure, character development, pacing and language to worry about, among other things.
Novels are complicated. With all the moving parts involved, they’re a lot like a complex machine that no one has ever seen before. And you’re the inventor.