I’ve been quite surprised this year at the amount of buzz created over NaNoWriMo. Just a few years ago, when I first learned of it and got involved, you could canter that name around and no one knew what you were talking about. I couldn’t count the number of times I had to explain what NaNoWriMo meant and how you did it. Now there’s hardly an author around who doesn’t know what it is.
I’m also surprised at the number of writers who don’t get involved in it. I’ve heard things like:
--I don’t like to be pushed when I’m writing because I have a slow and steady pace.
--I don’t have an idea to start a book with.
--I’m already involved in writing a book and don’t want to start a new one.
--It’s too much hoopla for me.
The only thing I can figure from these statements is that those people don’t fully understand the purpose of NaNoWriMo. Let me explain a few basics about it and if you’re one of those who said something akin to one of the above statements, you can still get involved and make headway on a project. It’s never too late to join the fracas.
Firstly, NaNoWriMo’s purpose is to encourage daily writing skills and habit. That’s it. Totally it.
Secondly, there is NO rule anywhere (not that there ARE any rules) that states you must begin a new project/manuscript for NaNo. If you’re working on something, continue working—just count your words written for November—not the total for the project. It’s that simple.
Thirdly, you work at your own pace, whether you are a fast or slow writer. It doesn’t matter that you ‘promised’ yourself to write 50,000 words in a month—if you don’t make the goal, so what? It was set for you, by you. Besides, if you write daily for an hour or so, you’ll easily make the goal. I started late due to illness and didn’t write a word on Saturday because I was busy. Am I worried? No, because I’ve written 2000 words or more when I could and will continue to do so.
Fourthly, you don’t need a fully fleshed out story idea to start with. Choose some idea you’ve stored in a file and just start writing. Don’t worry about where it’s going or who the characters are or anything. Even if it turns out to be junk at the end of the month, the writing habit and practice is good for you. And you may just come out with a winner by accident. The story I wrote last November turned out to be junk, but I’m using some of the characters and ideas in this month’s story which is looking promising.
Lastly, you don’t have to get involved in all of the hype and socializing around NaNo. You don’t have to do anything more than sign up at NaNoWriMo and check in occasionally with your word count. Just challenge yourself and don’t worry about anyone or anything else.
It’s like eating broccoli—it’s good for you.