Hey! Start Writing Today
November is a month that has many commemorations attached to it including American Indian and Alaskan Native Month, Stomach, Pancreatic, and Lung Cancer Month, and Alzheimer’s Month. All of these are important and worthy of a post, but I wanted to start with another commemoration for November: National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNo for those in the know. From November 1st to November 30th, many writers, professional, novice, and beginner alike, embark on writing a novel in one month. According to the NaNo website, “National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.” I definitely concur with that.
If you have had an idea for a novel for years, but something has always gotten in the way, prevented you from writing your great masterpiece, then look no further. Now every November, you can create an account and keep track of your writing through the NaNo website. The challenge is to write a novel in a month, which means that commitment and perseverance are the focus not necessarily craft. Craft comes in December when you start revising.
What’s further inspiring about this event is that thousands of people across the United States and even the world also are participating. With the NaNo website, writers can connect to each other and commune about their writing experiences. The website provides logs, forums, and other such tools to help keep writers connected and committed. What a brilliant way to motivate people to write that novel!
A few years ago I participated in this event to an extent. I did not create an account or communicate with the other writers via the NaNo website, but I did write a novel in the month of November. And I did this because of the NaNo website and event. It felt good to sit down every day and write on a novel because I had committed to doing so for the month of November. I found myself just writing instead of thinking about how or what I wanted to say. I just wrote. I didn’t obsess about the craft or writing techniques or literary devices. I just wrote my story.
This taught me many lessons about writing. First, it reminded me that the first draft of any piece or writing—novel, short story, blog post, article, letter, or otherwise—is going to be rough. It’s going to need attention. Sometimes writers focus so much on theme, metaphor, and symbolism that we forget to just put the damn story onto paper. Later we can revise, revise, revise to perfection. Participating in National Novel Writing Month forced me to just write. It was a relief.
The second lesson I learned by quasi-participating in National Novel Writing Month was that writing can and should be fun. Yes, at some point, a writer must get serious about her works, but at the inception she should enjoy watching the world unfold and creating the characters and conflict. Perhaps this was the most wonderful lesson I took from the event.
Finally, I remembered how important it was to commit to writing. Shortly after my participation in National Novel Writing Month, I created a writer’s group in my local community. NaNo showed me how much importance rests in committing to others when writing. If I felt like not writing, I would just go to the NaNo website and stare at the homepage. I knew that I had made a personal commitment to the event and if I didn’t write that day, I was breaking that commitment to myself and to the other writers around the world. That was one hell of a motivator. And that taught me my community needed something like that to encourage commitment in local writers.
I know not everyone wants to write or enjoys writing, but for those who do, there’s still eighteen days left in November. Why not start that fun novel now? Who knows? Maybe the end result will be something magnificent. Isn’t it time to commit to that story? Isn’t it time to commit to yourself?
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