When I first started out on my writing journey I got big into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It was the perfect solution to so many issues I had! Nano set up a short period of time I could finish my novel. It fostered an atmosphere of art and community. I got to meet creative people and be inspired by them. And finally, it made me write every day.
Above everything else, daily writing was the most valuable skill I learned from NaNoWriMo.
If you’re new to the writing word let me explain why NaNoWriMo is awesome. Every November people gather around the world and try to write a novel in 30 days. Yes, you read that right. 30 days!
When I was younger, the thought of cranking out 1667 words a day seemed daunting, but I was up for the challenge. I would have days where I could get out 2000, even 2500 words a day. Then I’d get distracted and miss whole days of writing. Suddenly it was November 25rd and I was hanging around 38K in words. How was I supposed to write 12k in five days?
Muscle through, that’s how.
NaNoWriMo taught me the importance of muscling through a draft. That it didn’t matter if the words weren’t perfect, or the dialogue was childish, or even if the plot was nonsensical. What was important? Word count.
Get to Publishing Faster
Now a lot of you will disagree with me on that. Not a problem. We all have our process. But let me remind you, oh gentle reader, that your first draft is never going to be perfect. That you’re going to have to go through that manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, regardless. The sooner you get to the editing phase, the sooner your manuscript can blossom into a publishable book. I’ll always remember what author Stant Litore told me once; “Amateurs write. Professionals re-write.”
So, the faster your junk-draft is finished, the faster you can continue towards your path to publishing.
NaNoWriMo helps you get there. If you can get into the habit of writing 1667 words a day – every day – rain or shine, then you can write an 80K or even a 100K novel. I now write around 3K a day, pushing it to 5K when things go super well. I owe all of that to NaNoWriMo.
But word count and creating a writing habit is only one of the benefits of NaNoWriMo. Do you want to know the real benefit of participating in NaNoWriMo? Community.
Go to Writing Events
I once suggested to a friend that if he wanted to write he should participate in NaNo. My friend was hesitant but eventually agreed to participate. November went by and I checked on him as the month came to a close to find out how he did. Unfortunately, he didn’t even break 5K. When I asked him why, he said he just wasn’t inspired to write. I then asked him if he went to any of the writing events I pointed him towards. He said no. “That’s your problem, friend.”
See, NaNoWriMo is a GREAT opportunity to meet other artists and aspiring artists. People who love literature or have a story to tell.
I live in Denver and during NaNoWriMo we meet at the Perkins off of I-25 and Colorado Blvd, every Friday night. People come, tell each other about their lives since their last NaNo adventure and just be goofy. We eat dinner. Then, around 8:30 pm the computers come out. We start typing. At first, it’s only a few people. But slowly the conversation dies. More lap tops come out and we are on a roll! Everyone is writing. Pie is eaten. Coffee is inhaled. People work out plot points or share their ideas. It’s a wonderful experience and it motivates me.
Jason Henry Evans: Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.
You can catch up with Jason on his Facebook Author Page or on Twitter. You will also find up to date posts on his blog.