Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thoughts on "winning" NaNoWriMo

First posted Oct. 30, 2009:

For those of you who are doing NaNoWriMo with me, I want you to take a moment to ponder... what does winning mean to you?

Is it precisely what the NaNoWriMo website says: 50K words in 30 days? Or is it more than that? (And, less.)

To me, NaNoWriMo is about put up or shut up. Do you want to be a writer? Then write. Do you want to write a novel? What have you done this very day to make that happen? Or, what did you prioritize instead? Was that the right choice?

Because NaNoWriMo is limited to a single month, it is easier to make sacrifices for our writing because we know it isn't going to be like this forever. We don't think too hard about recording a few t.v. shows, delegating a few household chores, and making a little more room for writing time, because it's a special event. In December, everything can go back to normal.

But what if it didn't? At the end of the month, win or lose, what will you have gained? There is a very distinct possibility that you will find that you were happier writing your novel than you were sitting on the couch watching reruns. Or you'll find out that your partner/kids can cook a meal or two every week without anyone being poisoned. Can you keep that going?

I have never won NaNo, in the strictest sense. I have never made it to 50,000 words without bringing in words that I wrote before November 1. In fact, ~30K words is the most I've ever gotten in one month. But you damn well better believe that I am a winner because of NaNo, because I kept writing, and rewriting, until I had an actual novel. Beginning, middle, and end, no plot holes... a BOOK. I wouldn't have that book if not for NaNo.

Think about the many goals that can be part of your NaNo experience: quieting your inner editor, getting a first draft done, getting a new character written, finding some new internet friends or perhaps even meeting some local Wrimos. If you keep those in your head as prominently as you do the 50K number, then you'll be less likely to give up just because that number seems too far away, and you'll be more likely to recognize that you ARE a winner, just for trying.

Good luck and break a leg!

2012 addendum:  If you need more inspiration, please check out Chuck Wendig's 25 THINGS WRITERS SHOULD STOP DOING.  Number 2 is "stop stopping."

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