Image: NaNoWriMo Badge
Once again I've chosen to take part in National Novel Writing Month by joining the 'Office of Letters and Light' in their particular novel writing challenge. This challenge is so widely followed that it has become synonymous with the month, itself. Their NaNoWriMo challenge is to write a fifty thousand word draft of a fiction novel in thirty days. I participated last year and found the experience both enjoyable and focusing. You might wonder why a serious writer would get involved ... but I have a few reasons a writer might find this exercise worth the time.
1. Get It Down On Paper. For those who have internal editors that keep them from just getting the words out of their heads and down onto paper, NaNoWriMo can be a great exercise in turning off this editor and forcing yourself to "just write." A draft is a draft, after all, and you can't edit what you don't have on paper. (My problems are not with creation of text, so the word goal is not prohibitive for me. My issues are definitely in the editing stage.)
2. Reinforce the Writing Schedule. For some, the 1700 words a day or so that are necessary to reach 50K means a shift in routine. The goal helps some people to really carve out the time needed to write every day. This can lead to a better writing commitment throughout the year.
3. Support Literacy Education. The non-profit organization in question, 'The Office of Letters and Light' runs a Young Writers' Program for children 13 and under. They fund it through book drives and such, but they also rely on donations and product sales associated with NaNoWriMo.
4. Meet Your Community. The writing community on the Forums is reasonably lively. Although many of the writers are young, there are specific places for those of us with a few (or more) decades under our belts to congregate. In addition to the on-line community, there is your local community. Kick-off parties and write-ins attract people to meet in specified locations to socialize and get some writing finished. It gets a person out of the house, or your usual writing venue, and into someplace new. And I enjoy the opportunity to simply meet other people in my area, regardless of if they intend to continue in the future with writing or not.
5. Push Through The Problems. In a typical writing day, I'll work on several projects. If one is giving me trouble, I'll put my efforts into another that isn't so troublesome. But this has the drawback of never really forcing me to work through a problem. I tend to wait until it solves itself, and it usually does, but it can take a very long time. NaNoWriMo is a venue in which you must force yourself through the sticky spots. You must keep writing. I have found this to be a good exercise for forcing my brain to work on, through, or around plot issues, even when it does not want to. Again, this writing is to produce a draft. Plot holes are for December (theoretically).
6. Fun. This is the best reason of all. Participation in NaNoWriMo is exciting and fun. Writing, something I do every day, has become like breathing - I'm glad I do it, but I don't make a holiday of the fact that it is there. NaNoWriMo makes writing into a celebration. It helps me remember many of the reasons why I enjoy writing in the first place.
So good luck to the novelists, whether involved with NaNo or otherwise. Hopefully this November will see some prodigious, if not well edited, writing.
Image Credit: NaNoWriMo 2010