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Why You Should Participate in NaNoWriMo

Tiffani Willis

Staff Writer

Tiffani C. Willis spends as much as time as she is able to traveling the universe by book and sometimes by, plane, train, boat, or car. When she’s not off on an adventure in a faraway land or trying to solve a mystery like a detective, Tiffani uses her powers as an academic librarian to help students survive school as they learn how to do research and write research papers. She spends her spare time rambling, raving, and ranting about books on her blog Passport Books, camping out in bookstores, and obsessively watching HGTV, usually with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine nearby. Twitter: @PassportBooks

November will soon be here and you know what that means – time to write a novel! Every November thousands of aspiring novelists pledge to write fifty thousand words over a period of thirty days as part of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. That works out to 1,667 words a day. What will you write?

Now maybe you’re thinking that you could never write a novel. Or maybe you like writing but can’t imagine ever being published and don’t see the point of even trying. Don’t let that stop you. Write anyway. NaNoWriMo is a wonderful opportunity to exercise your creative muscles even if you have no intention of ever showing your novel to another living soul.

Reaffirm Your Ability to Do Big Things

I have many goals. Some are short term, taking an hour or a couple days. Others will take months, years even. Long term goals are the hardest to stick with. It is easy to lose interest, momentum, and hope of ever finishing. Breaking up a big goal into smaller steps helps to make the bigger goal more manageable and less intimidating. Even if a short term goal isn’t related to a bigger project, completing the short term helps by reminding me that I am capable of completing a project.

I would classify writing consistently for thirty days as a medium term goal. It requires a significant time commitment but isn’t so long that it seems never ending. The end is always in sight. Once the month is over I have fifty thousand words. No matter how sloppily those words are strung together, it is always feels good to win. (One wins at NaNoWriMo by simply finishing.) Winning at one thing reminds me that I can succeed at other things. It’s like the first time I crossed the finish line of a marathon. Once I did that I knew I could do other insane things, like move across the country to a city where I knew virtually no one. That feeling may not last forever, but sometimes I need a reminder that I can accomplish big things. NaNoWriMo does that for me. Maybe it can do that for you too.

Participate in NaNoWriMo and gain discipline and focus

Part of the magic of NaNoWriMo is that come November 1st I will suddenly become super focused and disciplined. It’s interesting how a formal event and a time clock are able make that happen. I mean, I write only for myself. Whatever compilation of words I manage to produce by the end of NaNoWriMo is not for school or work. Yet, finishing matters. And to finish, I have to write. To write more than a thousand words a day I have to be focused and disciplined, and so I am. I wish it were so easy to suddenly find such focus and discipline in other areas of my life.

Exercise Creative Muscles You Haven’t Used in a While

When we were children we were naturally creative. Whether it was making up games, drawing, or building forts, it just came naturally and for no other purpose beyond the joy of making stuff. It is easy to forget that as an adult.

Unless your job involves writing you may not have done much creative writing since you were in school. NaNoWriMo provides an opportunity to exercise creative muscles you may not have used for a long time. Best of all, there is no grade at the end of it. It is all just for fun. Plus at the end of the month you will have a story, even if it’s only the story of the time you wrote a novel.

So consider participating in NaNoWriMo even if you don’t aspire to be a published novelist. I won’t lie. It will be hard. Between staying up late and getting up early to make your daily word count you will often be exhausted. But forget all that because when it’s all over you will have created something new and unique. So channel your inner Hemingway, Morrison, or whoever inspires you and get writing!