Why I Do NaNoWriMo
If you have been around me physically or virtually over the past 10 years during the month of November, you know that I participate in NaNoWriMo – a madcap writing adventure wherein individuals the world over aim to write a minimum 50, 000 word novel in 30 days. So I read with genuine interest Andi Cumbo-Floyd’s blog post explaining why NaNoWriMo is not for her. And I realize this endeavour is not for everyone. There have been two years where it hasn’t been the thing for me to do, either. But here is why I keep taking it on:
1. It’s fun: You’re giving me the same look I give to people who run grueling marathons “for fun” right now, aren’t you? It’s okay – I understand. I’m not saying every writing session during the month of November is fun. As with a marathon, there are times when I want to sit by the side of the road and just wallow in my frustrations and tiredness for a while. But I keep going because the good parts of the race outweigh the bad/tough parts. And when I stumble into December, read something I wrote in November and laugh (either due to finding it genuinely funny or amazingly awful)? Well, that’s a pretty sweet feeling.
2. It helps me ignore my inner editor/critic/pessimist: There is a time and a place to sit down with one’s writing in order to go over it with a fine-toothed comb. My problem is I tend to do that immediately after each sentence, which in turn leads to my having a hard time completing a proper first draft. I’m constantly tweaking and reworking things, eventually running out of steam and/or interest. I can’t afford to be so picky during NaNoWriMo. As such, NaNoWriMo helps me remind myself the rest of the year I can get a messy first draft done. Take that, inner editor.
3. I’m not bound to an outline: I have a pretty decent idea for a bona-fide novel languishing in real and virtual folders, and have yet to properly sit down and make a genuine attempt at finishing it. Why? Because I had to write a synopsis and an outline for it as part of the writing course it was birthed in and as such feel as though I’ve already told that story. (Even as I typed that last sentence, I know that’s not the whole truth as to why I haven’t gone back to it, but it is a resistance, a dip I have yet to get past.) On the other hand, NaNoWriMo allows me to start with an often-nebulous idea and then change course however many times I need to in order to keep the words flowing.
4. I love fiction: Ever since I was a kid I’ve been drawn to made-up worlds whether in print, on TV, or in movies. My yearly November writing adventure is one of the times I can pursue that passion with a minimal amount of guilt. Now as to why I feel guilty writing fiction, well, that may be another blog post for another time. But during NaNoWriMo I find it easier to let it go.
So there you have it – my reasons for participating in this yearly writing marathon. Thank you to all who have cheered me on in years past – spectators (my husband being the loudest) and participants alike. I hope you’ll be there again this year. Writing can be solitary, but NaNoWriMo is one of those times when the solitude is not quite so silent.