I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for a few years now, and it’s one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve ever done. If you have heard of it, NaNoWriMo, or the National Novel Writing Month to give it it’s full name is where people try and write 50,000 words of a book in the month of November.
Sounds crazy? Impossible? Well, it is and it isn’t. NaNoWriMo can (and is) gruelling. I generally don’t get much sleep during November, I drink WAY too much caffeine, and I don’t see my friends a lot. I pretty much spend the entire month glued to a computer screen, frantically tapping away on my keyboard.
Now, that description makes NaNoWriMo sound awful. But believe me, it’s super fun! When you sign up for NaNoWriMo you get a profile on their website. This is handy because your profile includes your stats - so you can still if your on target to finish, or hopelessly behind. You also have writer buddies, and forums where you can ask every question you can think of and get an answer. NaNoWriMo is a community effort. You spend the month cheering on and encouraging other writers, making friends on the other side of the world, diving into that book you always wanted to write.
I think that there is something so incredibly brave about making a public commitment to put pen to paper and write. Writing is scary. It’s like putting a little part of you out there on display for all to see. But with the help of the NaNoWriMo community, you really feel like you can do it.
This year, I won NaNo. I wrote 50,000 words in one month. By November 30th I was exhausted, my fingers ached and all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and watch TV. But the sense of achievement was epic - a buzz that weeks later, I still haven't come down from.
By the way, this is only the second time I’ve won NaNo, and I must have participated in 3 or 4 annual events. Sometimes life gets in the way, or you’re not in the right headspace to write continuously for a month, guess what - you’re still a winner. Whether you wrote 5 words or 5 million, you did something. You put that idea on paper - you started something amazing. And, I bet you met a lot of great people along the way. The people of NaNo is what makes this such a special challenge - great writer friends are worth their weight in gold.
November is over for another year, and I hope that your December (and mine) is one of relaxation. 2016 has got SO much to look forward too - not only is there the November challenge, but you could also take part in Camp NaNoWriMo - a monthly write in that occurs in April and July where you get to set your own word count goals.
Finally, NaNo-ers, you inspire me. Your commitment, bravery and dedication to writing all those words is astounding. So go give yourself a pat on the back, and maybe have a mince pie - you deserve it!