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.
NaNoWriMo does work, on many different levels. But it also depends on what you’re looking to accomplish. There are a lot of writers out there who think that nothing Nobel Prize-winning could possibly be produced by racing through a 50k word manuscript in one month. But so what? The truth is that NaNo writers are not setting out to win the Nobel Prize. Instead, we’re setting the intention to prove something to ourselves.
That we can do it.
That we have it in us to write a novel.
This is probably the biggest, nastiest, unspoken fear every aspiring writer battles in their own head every day. Deep down, we’re terrified that we don’t have it in us to actually write a novel. And if we really don’t, then our life is at risk of becoming a tragedy, and our hearts feel like they might very well break.
Because it’s the thing we want to do most in this world.
Countless writers struggle with this all the time. We want to write but we’re stuck. We want to write but we can’t. We want to write but we don’t know what’s wrong with us, why is it so hard? We usually tell no one about this inner turmoil, except maybe for a spouse or a very close friend.
But then NaNoWriMo comes along and changes everything.
Suddenly, we don’t have time to fight about it with ourselves anymore. It’s November 1st and we have to get started. We don’t have the space to pick our story apart and tear it to pieces. We only have 30 days and now it’s Nov 7th and, for better or worse, we’ve got to follow these characters. Then the halfway mark of Nov 15th rolls around and we’ve got to push through to get this thing on the runway to launch.
By the time that last week of November hits we’ve invested too much of our heart, soul, sweat and tears to abandon this project.
There’s no turning back now.
That’s the secret of NaNo. It hits so hard and fast that we do not have the time to talk ourselves out of it. The pressure is so intense that we do not have the luxury of giving into fear and doubt. Cutting away the fat of time and luxury pushes us into something like survival mode. All of a sudden, our priorities get very, very clear. Our vision is unclouded and true. We see now that the only thing that matters is getting words down on the page, one after the other.
If you’re jumping onboard the NaNo train this year, you’ve already taken the first incredibly courageous step of the writing warrior. You’ve set the intention to make it happen. You’ve told the universe exactly how you see yourself, what you want, and how you’re going to do it. You’re a writer, damn it. You want to write.
You are going to write.
And, most importantly, you will not be stopped.
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