Mention NaNoWriMo to me and my writer’s adrenaline gets pumped. I get asked about my NaNo experience rather frequently, possibly because I go ga ga over it, all the time.
For the uninitiated and the curious, NaNoWriMo is short for the mouthful National Novel Writing Month. Every year, in the month of November, thousands of writers all over the world come together (virtually) to write a complete novel in 30 days. This complete novel is quantified at 50,000 words.
Writing a complete novel (is it really complete? We will talk about that later) in a month is an exciting achievement. And yet, many writers I know shy away from attempting the NaNoWriMo.
Here I am, trying to convince the doubters and the non believers to just try this one time and be a convert for a lifetime.
So, why should you try the NaNoWriMo?
1. It’s Fun
Seriously!? Doesn’t it sound like hard work? Writing a novel in 30 days feels/sounds/is difficult.
The thing is that NaNoWriMo requires you to write, write and write without any inhibitions or editing at this stage. Also, because the writers are required to reach a particular word count, they have to loosen up and sometimes let the words take over. It is a lot of fun to let the novel write itself which is a rollercoaster of fun if you don’t get in the way.
2. You feel like a Bona Fide Writer
Finishing a novel in one month can be quite an achievement. Before I did my first NaNoWriMo, I had been blogging for some time. Most of my posts were below 1k words. I posted as and when I wanted. I wrote about whatever caught my fancy. So even though I had been writing, there wasn’t strict discipline in place.
It was only after I finished the first writing draft which cane to 50k+ that I had the confidence to call myself a writer who writes against all odds.
3. It’s the perfect way to build a writing routine
Most of us pledge every once in a while to start writing or to keep writing regularly. But life is busy otherwise and situations come up that require more attention than writing. So the dream of being regular stays just a dream. Deciding to do the NaNoWriMo means you are commiting to writing nearly every day to meet the word count goal. It helps you build a writing routine and by the time the month is over, you are one of those writers who ‘write everyday’.
4. You learn to find time for writing
So, why don’t we write regularly? Because we are short of time. Almost, everyone of us is. Unless writing is your job.
During NaNoWriMo, you force yourself to make time for writing, whether it is early morning, in the lunch hour, on your commute or late in the night. Knowing that this madness of finding time pockets in unlikely places is only going to last a month, we keep at it and before long we become pros at making time for writing, as opposed to finding time.
5. You understand your writing quirks and style better
A couple of years back, I would write as and when I felt like it. It was a hobby I could pick and ignore as per my whim.
Doing the NaNoWriMo made me see a pattern in my writing. I could see what tropes I used and overused and the things I avoided writing about. I analysed the places my writing fell flat, eg, I am terrible at writing dialogue. I also felt the need to be more prepared, to have an outline ready before I sit down to write. I understood that I was more of a pantser, ie writing on impulse.
6. You know how to work around the obstacles and to fill the plot holes
NaNoWriMo is a wonderful experience. But like a chameleon, it can change its colour sometime after the first week of writing and even morph into a monster. To wade through the wordiness and to make sure that what you write is part of a whole, you have to take an overall view of your writing. While this is not really required while you are racing to finish the 50k words, it is needed that you find and plug the plot holes once you are editing and polishing your work. This experience comes in handy in improving your writing skills.
7. You discover the pleasure of first drafts
Completing 50k in 30 days is a kick-ass experience. But do 50 k words a novel make? Not right away. You do need to stash away your work for a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Now is the time to edit and tighten the writing.
The words that you write during the month of November is the first draft. It is essentially putting down the story on paper. It may be tentative in the beginning but as you go ahead, your voice becomes stronger and the story starts to make sense.
Are you doing the NaNoWriMo this year? What are the things that you like best about this writing marathon?