If you’ve never heard of NANOWRIMO, let me break it down to it’s simplest form.
Writing 50,000 words in the month of November.
Yup. That pretty much sums it up in a super fast nutshell.
Crazy, right?! I thought so for years. Writers in college (who I steered clear of because I believed they were farther along their writing journey than I was) talked all about it in the months prior. It wasn’t until October 2018 that I decided to finally investigate. Fortunately, this was during a time period where I was drowning with inspiration to write, without an actual source to pour it in. Ever felt that way? Eager to write but the hamster isn’t turning that wheel just yet? Just me? Yikes!
At the end of October 2018, I photographed families for a fostering/adoption agency. My spirits were high, my face hurt from smiling and I was truly overwhelmed the good in this world. Yes, there is still good in this world. The media just doesn’t highlight it enough.
I walked away from that two hour photo session feeling even more inspired, but not in the same way as I’d been feeling with my writing. I felt inspired to make a difference, to raise awareness. And that night, the idea hit me : combine both pools of inspiration by writing a novel about a girl in the foster system. BOOM! I conjured up a book baby! Conveniently, it was a few days before NANOWRIMO. So I figured, what the heck! Why not?
So for the next three days, I 1) Outlined like a madwoman, 2) Registered for NANOWRIMO/announced my book baby to the universe and 3) Finally realized what NANOWRIMO is all about.
Challenges. Connecting/supporting other writers. And making promises to yourself.
If you’ve never done NANOWRIMO, there’s still time to knock that off your 2019 ‘to-rock’ list!
And if you’re still hesitant, read further on my first NANOWRIMO journey.
So…You’ve got this book baby that’s been flooding your brain for weeks, months, maybe years! And there is absolutely no shame if that is your story right now. Great things take time, right? But maybe, just maybe, you feel one step closer or one ounce braver than the day before and you are ready to make shit happen.
NANOWRIMO is the way to make shit happen. You can track your progress with the daily word count by uploading your content. And you don’t have to put it in everyday. You’re supposed to, but life happens. Or you’ll flat out forget. No biggie! Just upload it the next day when you can. Now, if you’re all about validation and winning streaks, then make it a point to upload daily. The system will congratulate you.
If this year will be your first time tackling a wild word count in one month, shoot for 50k! Over achiever? Shoot for 60k!
But NANOWRIMO is a challenge that will test you. Know that up front. It will test your creativity, your dedication, your work ethic and your willingness to prioritize something you love dearly : WRITING! If you’re like me, writing isn’t your full time job. Wish it was, but until I make a rare break into the publishing industry, I’ll be double downing it for a while! Add in life and it’s honestly a miracle any writing gets done. But do you want to know the secret?
It is possible to balance it all. That is the secret. Even with all the non-writing obstacles blocking your path, it is possible to treat writing with the respect it deserves. YOU just have to find YOUR best way to make it possible.
Doing NANOWRIMO forced me to create a schedule I should have made a long time ago. It forced me to treat my writing like my second job. Certain challenges exist to better you as a writer and I whole heartedly believe that NANOWRIMO is one of them.
Challenge yourself. Find ways to make writing a higher priority. Wake up an hour earlier. Stay off Netflix until AFTER you’ve hit your daily word count. Create discipline in your writing lifestyle. Do what it takes to make it happen…or it won’t. It is as simple as that.
Connecting/Supporting other Writers
I LOVE the writing community that comes from NANOWRIMO! Cannot stress this enough. I have cultivated online friendships that have carried past the month of November. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, there are options for both.
It might differ for you, but Instagram is where I find the most community-like support. NANOWRIMO hosts a photo challenge the entire month of November with daily prompts that have a way of challenging a writer to learn more about their new characters, the plot and their novel in general. Thanks to hashtags, it’s easy to virtually see who all is participating. Like a fellow writer’s post, comment, direct message, exchange emails and BOOM! You now have a virtual writing buddy!
If you are a thriving people person, then the in-person events are for you Hopefully, you’re close to one. The NANOWRIMO website can provide the nearest one for you once you’ve registered. Kid you not…I live five minutes down the street from the restaurant we met at last year. Super convenient…If I were a people person.
Speaking of last year’s event. Cute-ish/funny story ahead!
I was ridiculously nervous to go. To the point where I pretty much wasn’t going, but knew I would regret it if I didn’t. See…I have this issue of going somewhere new and alone. I don’t like it. Never have. Never will. I’m just set in my ways. Add in talking about something I’m passionate about with other people who share the same passion, but were more than likely a million times a better writer than me. Just could not see myself going alone.
Lucky for me, my dad can be bribed and bought with margaritas!
Now. Imagine an engineer/ex-army father, sitting at a table with a dozen writers.
Got the image? Yeah…That image is how I thought the night would go. I thought I would sit awkwardly and quietly at the end of the table with my dad and be seen, but not heard. And I was okay with sitting quietly in a corner. As long as I wasn’t alone.
To my surprise, dad did the complete opposite. He held conversations better than I did BEFORE the waiter brought our margaritas. I mean, WAY better than I did. I, the writer, said very little for the first thirty minutes. Dad lead conversations while he did his absolute best to include me by asking about my novel. I answered with quick and vague responses while eating half a basket of plain chips.
Then I started in on my second margarita, felt relaxed and ended up being the person who coordinated a group picture before everyone went home. Dad and I both left with new friends that night.
These in person events help you engage with writers you never would have met in your area without NANOWRIMO. Once a week, they met up at a library for a dedicated that time of writing. Since I’m easily distracted (and the opposite of a confident writer/people person), I never went. I have to hunker down in my writing room to get things done.
Making Promises to Yourself
When you speak a goal into existence, you owe it to yourself to do what it takes to make it happen. NANOWRIMO holds you accountable…to an extent. Unfortunately, no one is going come through that screen and force you to write. It just doesn’t work that way.
Writing is hard. NANOWRIMO challenge or not. It’s just flat out hard. It’s full of thick layers, road blocks, hiccups and triumphs. It can make you feel like you are on top of the world one day and then you’re under a rock the next.
But the end game…OOOOH NELLY! Let me tell you! It is such a…feeling! And I can’t put that feeling into words. And I don’t want to try, because I want YOU to have your own feeling when you reach that incredible goal. I want you to drown in that feeling when you hit that 50,000 word count and then realize some life changing information.
You were born to write.
Let me repeat that. You. Were. Born. To. Write. And when you look back on those 50,000 words you wrote in ONE MONTH, you’ll have THE proof that can always be your reminder when you doubt your future self. Of course, you’ve written before. But committing and successfully following through on such a lofty goal is a real game changer.
So take the challenge as a promise to yourself. Give your best self to your writing. And watch your passion grown.
Before we part ways my dear writing friend, here are 5 things you need to find before tackling NANOWRIMO. Of course I’m going to give some tips. I wouldn’t get you all excited about this crazy/lofty/inhumane challenge without sharing some advice.
Find your Rest. I could have led with one of the others, but this is my biggest push. Self care still applies during NANOWRIMO. Find ways to keep yourself inspired. Believe it or not, I read two books during the event last year. I read one that had been patiently waiting on my TBR list and then reread the one that made me realize I wanted to be a writer : Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. Reading these two novels, I was reminded that anything can happen within a couple hundred pages. It’s all up to how creative you want to get. And by rest, I don’t mean sleep. Sleep is a no brainer. I hope you are ‘adult’ enough to know that is necessary. When I say rest/self care, I’m encouraging that you go for a run. Take a hot bath. Watch a movie that hits all your feels. Find a new recipe and cross your fingers while it’s in the oven. Do things you love during your time of rest.
Find your rhythm. If you want to hash out 5,000 words in one day and then rest the next, go for it! Do you prefer waking up before the birds? Grab that slimy worm. Is hunkering down with a cup of hot tea (or wine) while the stars and coyotes are out your time to shine? Sing loud little night owl. No matter the time of day, embrace it and make it yours.
Find your fuel. Coffee, hot tea, sour skittles, cool ranch Dorito chip, sweet tea, wine or Dove milk chocolates. Do your stomach and your thirst a favor and give it what it craves!
Find your army. Don’t tackle NANOWRIMO alone. Engage with other writers. Tell your friends and family about the challenge. My biggest support came form my boyfriend and parents. Online or in person, find your army.
Find your courage. Surprise yourself. Show yourself what your capable of. I promise. That eager writing beast is waiting for this wild challenge. There is literally NOTHING you could loose. And if you don’t hit that 50k word count…guess what? What you did do is still good enough. Any progress is better than zero progress. Find the courage to take on this lofty challenge. Be brave enough to fail and be brave enough to succeed.
Until next time,