So, NaNo is fast approaching. Do you know what you’ll be writing yet?
For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month) is 30 days of insane, crazy, all-out writing that begins at midnight on November 1st and ends as you drag yourself across the finish line 50,000 words later.
There’s only a month left before the frenzy begins, so I hope you know what you’re going to be working on.
What’s that, you say? There’s no way you could ever write 50,000 words in a single month? That’s where you’re wrong, my friend.
See, back in 2005 I thought the exact same thing. The longest thing I’d ever written at that point was about 20,000 words, and man did I ever think that was an accomplishment. My then-girlfriend (now wife) challenged me – she said that she thought I could do it, and that I should give it a a try, because even if I didn’t make it at least I would have gotten something out of it.
As I later found out, most people who really commit to that first year DO make it to the 50,000 word mark. Even later than that, I found out that a good number of people do NOT make it their second year… myself included.
NaNo is the perfect way to silence the inner perfectionist editor that keeps many people from actually writing and finding their story. Would I ever let my 2005 NaNo see the light of day? You bet your arse I wouldn’t. Not in a million years. Still, I learned a LOT from that maddening, frustrating, wonderful, glorious attempt to push myself past my inner limits and accomplish something that I’d never done before.
I still draw on the lessons of past NaNos whenever I work on a writing project. I won in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 – unfortunately, due to personal reasons, I wasn’t able to participate last year. My 2008 NaNo, after much rewriting and revision, turned into my first self-published work, which is currently snagging all kinds of great reviews at Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads and LibraryThing.
My writing has matured over the last 6 years (and I mean a lot) but I would never be where I am today, a self-published author making his way in the world and navigating this crazy thing called independent authordom without the challenge and wonder that NaNo provided to me.
If you’ve never done NaNo before, I challenge you this – sign up, get involved and write 50,000 words between 11/1 and 11/30/2011. You might not succeed. You might barely squeak by with a win on the last day as midnight approaches, or you might surprise even yourself and soar past the goal line with wings outspread and arms in the air as the crowds cheer you on. Even if you fail, you will learn something about yourself and your writing, and you will be better for it.
I hope you’ll be there, writing alongside me.