Every wannabe novelist, including myself, at one point or another asks themselves if they want to participate in NaNoWriMo. There should be a simple answer of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to that question and yet many writers find the gears in their head spinning between the two. Why is it such a daunting month?
For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it happens every November. The goal of this month-long challenge is to write a 50,000 word book within the month. That’s right, you read that correctly, 50,000 words in 30 days from scratch. “Who in their right mind would think that was possible?!” You may ask and the answer to that question is very simple: writers!
There’s something very romantic about setting lofty goals for yourself that some part of you is aware that you will never achieve. Little matches the burst of energy every writer gets from sitting down to a blank Word document and a cup of tea. The possibilities for stories are endless. But then four hours later the tea is gone and you are still sitting there staring at a blank screen with your head in your hands wondering where the day went.
NaNoWriMo is a way to tackle that fear head-on! What sounds better than trying to write any old thing and usually failing than trying to write a whole novel in just thirty days!? Well…lots of things…but you’re missing the point.
Writers need goals that sparkle as bright as the sun in order to push them forwards towards success. What better way to create a daily writing habit than by committing to a month-long challenge?
So, now we’re back to the question: should YOU participate in NaNoWriMo this year? In order to answer this question you must first gauge yourself by asking the following questions:
- Is this a goal I want to work towards?
First things first. Is this even an accomplishment that you deem worth reaching for? Before dedicating yourself to a challenge such as this you must first gauge the end-product. WHEN you succeed, not if, will you feel proud of your accomplishment? Will you be happy you went through with the challenge? How would going on this journey help your career as a writer? Gauge whether or not this is actually a goal you’d like to see yourself working towards and then move on to the next question.
- Do I have the self-discipline to write close to 2,000 words every day?
When you do the math of 50,000 words over a 30 day period you will find that the number of words per day that you will need to write is 1666.66667 words a day. Rounded up that’s 1667 words, close to 2,000 words per day just to stay on task! This will be an arduous commitment to writing every single day, if you skip a single day you will be 2,000 words behind schedule and that’s not a good feeling for anyone.
Finding the “right place and time” to write is a nonexistent problem. If you set a goal to write, that means that you write, every single day no matter where you are. When I first tried this challenge I was in High School and I wrote on my ipad before school, during school, and after school every single day. You make time to write, you do not find it. So, back to this question, do you believe you have the self-discipline to write close to 2,000 words a day?
- Am I excited enough about my book idea to see it through?
This is another question that seems like a no-brainer to answer but take a second to really think about it. Is the book idea that you have undoubtedly been mulling over in your mind for some time now worth the pain and anguish of finishing? Every big project has it’s ups and downs and just sitting down to write is not the hardest part of managing a large work. You have to have the focus and excitement to see the piece through the plot holes, through the self-doubt, through the characters fighting each other in your head, and through the very last scene of the book when you’re wondering if you like everything that led up to that point. Really think hard about your idea and ask yourself if this is a work you can truly dedicate 30 days to. 30 days doesn’t sound like a lot when you’re reading it in black and white numbers and letters but going through it us another thing entirely.
- Who am I doing this for?
This challenge is meant for you, yourself. If you are doing it for fame (your fans), for your family, or for that love interest you’ve had your eye on then re-evaluate why you’d like to partake in this challenge. This is supposed to be one of those shiny goals we talked about before getting into the list. A shining beacon of truth and light for your career as a writer. An adventure for you to take yourself on. The people who will read your book after you should come second to yourself. The most important part of any writing is to entertain yourself, the rest will come later. So, who are you doing this for? Is this something your future self will feel happy with accomplishing?
After asking yourself these questions, and answering them honestly to yourself, then you can determine whether or not this is a challenge you wish to take upon yourself. Please remember, there is always next year, you don’t HAVE to conform to the 50k in 30 days rule, and you can decide halfway through that it’s not for you. This is a challenge that is meant to delight writers, not scare them away from writing.
Happy NaNoWriMo and may the words flow from your fingertips like rain falls from the sky during a storm…or any other metaphor that means: easily.
Share, comment, and let me know your thoughts. Have a Happy Halloween everyone!
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