Wirter’s Life: Countdown to NaNoWriMo!

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 26, 2010 in Writer's Life |

Less than a week to go until November 1st!

Maybe some of you are still on the fence about whether to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I love it to bits, but I’ll admit, it’s not for everyone. (My writer friend Patrice is one of them, but I won’t hold that against her.)  NaNoWriMo has done a lot for me, and each year as the acorns pelt me from above and the temperature starts to dip below 90 degrees, I know novel writing season is right around the corner.

There’s a lot to love about NaNoWriMo. For me, I wouldn’t even be writing if I hadn’t heard about the event 6 years ago. It sounded perfect for me. I love insane challenges and random hobbies, especially those that don’t cost a lot. All I needed was a computer, and I had that! Unfortunately, I saw the ad for NaNoWriMo towards the end of November, but I wasn’t about to let another whole year go by before I tried it, so I attempted to do my own version in April where I finished my first “novel” in twenty-one days. It wasn’t crap. It wasn’t great either, but it was good enough to entertain my friends and family. They passed it on to their friends to read, which is just about the biggest compliment you can get.

I got hooked on writing, then, not by the act of writing itself, but seeing people react to the words that I’d put on the page, and I couldn’t wait to write my first real NaNovel. That November, I joined some 60,000 people in a frenzy of creativity. Again I hit 50k and even went beyond, but more importantly, I saw what a writing community was. I got to leave my house and go to write-ins at coffee shops. I met other writers, talked about writing. Made friends — some that I see only one month out of the year, but also some who are very near and dear. Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely, isolated activity. Doing it en masse, you get lots of encouragement, tips and pointers, and stories of come-from-behind victories that can help keep you going. Plus it’s a great excuse to consume ridiculous quantities of caffeine and chocolate.

Don’t fall for the hype though. NaNoWriMo is not all about fun times and slapping high fives with your fellow Wrimos while sipping fancy coffee drinks. It’s hard work. It’ll warp your brain, leave your fingers cramped, and reduce your social life to something resembling a Sasquatch’s. You’ll hate it some days. You’ll be bitter about seeing your friend’s word counts rise exponentially, and secretly gloat about those who drop out of the race before you. The dark recesses of your mind will start bleeding out on the page, and you’ll learn things about yourself that you really didn’t want to know.

But in the end, if you keep at it, you’ll have a 50,000-word draft. It may be pretty decent, or it may in fact be something so hideous that you can’t find a drawer deep enough to hide it in. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’ve done something people spend all their lives talking about and never doing. You set out to do a difficult task that requires imagination, dedication, and sacrifice. It’s your novel — 50,000 words that came out of YOU — a story that would not exist in this world if you hadn’t brought it into fruition. And that’s a beautiful thing.



John Murphy
Oct 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

NaNoWriMo is not all about fun times and slapping high fives with your fellow Wrimos while sipping fancy coffee drinks.


reduce your social life to something resembling a Sasquatch’s

Too late! 😉

Yeah, despite the overwhelming, er, glamor of the process, I think I talked myself into giving it a try this year. I’m signed up as jpmurphy, and I believe there are a few other people we know skulking about the NaNo halls.

Patrice Sarath
Oct 26, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Well, okay…you make it sound so reasonable. It’s still not for me, and I can’t even see the attraction, but the proof is in the pudding.

Nicky Drayden
Oct 26, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Cool, John, I’ll friend you or whatever. Good luck. I’m NicoleMD.

@Patrice, see all the fun you’re missing! 😉



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