Should You Participate in NaNoWriMo?

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Much like any of these other past Novembers, National Novel Writing Month (AKA: NaNoWriMo) has started, and I…haven’t started writing for it. I want to, don’t get me wrong, and I most likely will do some writing for it, but I just find it hilarious that I’m never quite ready immediately on time when this event comes around. Hey, better late than never, right?

I have most of the novel planned out, as I have been for quite a while, but I just haven’t found that push to actually get me started. NaNoWriMo has been on my mind, especially with this novel coming up, and I figured it could be that push to get started, because that’s one of the big reasons why I’m so fond of it.

For those who are unaware, NaNoWriMo is an online community event where people who commit to participating work toward the goal of writing 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. There are usually local meetups around it to help fellow writers get motivated, and you actually get a neat little certificate if you manage to make the word count goal by the end. I’ve only ever made it once, and I have to say, it was pretty exciting to get that pat on the back.

No matter what your feelings are about National Novel Writing Month, I think it’s a great way to finally push yourself to start those big writing projects you’ve been putting off. Sure, 50k words in just a month is a lot to write in such little time, especially since most people still have work, families, and other daily commitments to attend to, but I think this is one of those times where it’s more productive to focus on the journey, not the destination.

Should you do your best to get to 50k words in this month? Oh, absolutely. Figure out the best way to budget your time, and figure out how many words you need to write per day/per week to accommodate your already existing schedule, and take the necessary steps to try to get there. But the thing is, even if you don’t make it to that word count goal, guess what? You still started a novel. Even if it’s only 5,000 words of a novel, 10,000 words, or whatever number you get to, you still started. You still leapt over one of the biggest hurdles of novel writing, and that, alone, is a HUGE deal.

And maybe you’re like me, and you’re starting a few days late. It’s better to start later than never at all, and starting late doesn’t mean the goal is still out of reach. Writers, artists, and creators of all kinds have so many invisible barriers that keep us from achieving our goals, and the ability to start and finish a novel is no different. I keep blocking myself from starting because “I haven’t done enough planning” and “I don’t really know where it should start,” but instead of actually starting this project, I’m letting myself get caught up in everything that isn’t the actual novel writing. If I keep myself trapped in this loop, I’ll never actually start. 50,000 words is within reach. Starting a novel is way more than achievable. I just have to do it.

I think I’m going to do it. Well, no. I am going to do it.

And you can, too. I believe in you, and even if you don’t get to that end goal this month, just know that you still started something amazing. That’s the most important part!

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