Okay, confession time. To this day, every time I hear the word “NaNoWriMo,” the first image that pops into my head is a miniature rhino that goes bulldozing headlong through a page of words. Letters flung everywhere. K is clinging for dear life to the top corner of the page; R is knocked on its back on the bottom left. Chaos everywhere.
And that can be exactly how National Novel Writing Month feels. Chaotic. Especially when you have to crank out a given amount of words each day. Think about it: let’s pretend that 50,000 words is your writing goal for the month of November. There are 30 days in November. That means you have to churn out 1,667 words per day. If life gets in the way on any given day, then you get to double your word count the next day. And that, my friend, is a LOT of words.
Last November I finally bucked up and committed to doing NaNoWriMo. “Why,” you ask, “would you subject yourself to that much stress?” First, as an artist, I thrive under pressure. The creative juices just start pumping when I have a deadline staring me down. But second it was one of the best things I’ve ever done to jumpstart my writing.
You see, I’m notorious for sitting in front of my computer and fussing for an hour over what the right word is. While that’s fine for the editing process, I can easily find myself consumed with word choice over actually getting the story down on paper. Writing the story is the fun part! It’s where the characters begin to become flesh and blood and the action gets your heart pounding. But if you’re too caught up in the minutiae, you miss all the fun. And that’s where NaNoWriMo is an awesome tool.
You don’t have time to worry if the scene is flowing or if you used just the right lingo. You have to write fast and furious. You have a deadline; you have motivation. Something to keep you accountable to write. If you take up the challenge, you’ll get the story down on paper, and that’s half the battle. Once it’s down, you can edit to your heart’s content. Sometimes getting it down in the first place is the hardest part.
So I challenge you: if you’ve been procrastinating on writing your novel (or any other work for that matter), sign up for NaNoWriMo. It’s a fabulous writing exercise if nothing else. And you may be surprised and the direction your writing takes you, and how far along you are in just 30 days.
Here’s your next stop: www.NaNoWriMo.org . Good writing, and good luck!