NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is almost upon us once again. NaNo holds a particularly special place in my heart. It has been going on since 1999. I participated in my first one two weeks after completing my first ever novel in 2005.
I will confess, I was worried, even a little scared, that first year. I had just spent seven years writing my first novel and I couldn’t possibly see any way to write 50,000 words in only 30 days (that is the challenge of NaNoWriMo, btw).
Twenty-two days later, I hit that 50,000 word mark much to my own surprise and delight and I’ve never looked back. I have participated in NaNo six more times since then (yes, I know that means I’ve missed a few) and I’ve always “Won” NaNoWriMo (winning simply means you achieve the 50,000 in 30 days).
Of the seven books I’ve written during NaNo, four are currently in print (in case you are wondering which four, all three Mik Murdoch novels and Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty). Clearly, there’s something to it for me.
I get a little giddy when I think about it, actually. I thrive on the competitiveness of the event. Granted, it’s competition against myself, but it gets me hyperfocused. I find time I didn’t know I had every single day. I have written while on vacation, evenings after work and weekends during/after Scout camps.
And this year I am going back to do it again.
Now, before you get the idea that the writing I do during NaNo is pure wonder and glory every year, let me set a record straight. Every one of the books I’ve written during NaNo (published and unpublished) have had a LOT of editing before they were anywhere near polished. In fact, they probably needed more work than books I’ve taken more time to write.
But the old saying is true: you can’t edit what you haven’t written, and that is the key. When I’ve wanted to kickstart a project (the Mik books were all longer than 50,000 words) NaNo is a wonderful place to do that.
I am feeling a little of the pre-NaNo jitters; life is much busier right now than any of the past years. I’m going to have to be more focused than ever before to be successful.
Will you join me? Will you take the challenge?
If you decide you are up for it, my handle is mplested on the site. Friend me and we can challenge each other to greater heights.