Yes, you should do NaNoWriMo this Year.
You are here because you have a burning desire to write. You have wonderful, deeply interesting stories that live in your thoughts. Nobody else can write them for you.
You should absolutely TRY.
Because it’s so hard. National Novel Writing Month is like the Olympics for writers, except the only person you have to beat is yourself. It requires that you write 1667 words a day, or almost 12,000 a week, which is a sturdy pace for any writer.
Fear not, for I have good news:
NaNoWriMo is Surprisingly Easy to Win
…especially if you’ve had a novel stuck in your mind for a while.
I learned this the first time I participated. I had been dreaming of a novel for the last few months. When November rolled around, I decided I would get prepared for NaNoWriMo.
And then, I jumped in. It was like a dam breaking. I had been thinking about writing for so long that the words flowed like rivers from my fingertips.
I was halfway to my 50k word goal in just ten days.
And then, the words dried up. And I fell behind. More accurately, I burned out and stopped writing halfway through the month.
Instead of giving up, I tried to figure out what was wrong. Along the way, I learned about other benefits of NaNoWriMo:
You Will Become a Far Better Writer, Fast
Writing 1667 words a day is uncomfortable. For some writers, that represents hours of work, every single day. It may be some of the best work in the world, but it is still work. If you work too hard, you will burn out (like I did).
There are a few ways to reduce your strain while writing your novel:
First, kill your inner perfectionist. He’s a tyrant, and he’s trying to ruin your work. Perfectionism will give you writer’s block, and you’ll spend more time editing than writing – a terrible idea during NaNoWriMo. Avoid editing as much as possible.
If you make a mistake, leave a comment in your writing. And move on.
Second, learn how to write faster. There were a few books that I read that helped me go from ~500 words/hour to ~1100. It took practice, but if you want to write faster, read one of these books:
- 2,000 to 10,000: How to Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What You Love
- Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing
These books will teach you how some professional writers can crank out high-quality words at an absurd rate. You don’t have to follow in their exact footsteps, only use them as a guide to grow your own word-writing rate.
Here’s one extremely valuable lesson I took away from 2,000 to 10,000: you might write 5x as fast when you have a detailed outline, because when you know where the story is going, it can be easier to get there.
NaNoWriMo Lets You Experience the Writer’s Life
NaNoWriMo is a boot camp, where you’re both the camper and the boot. That is, the client and the coach.
You will teach yourself so many things. And you will realize how in-depth and customizable and unique the book writing process is.
You’ll learn how to…
- Build a cast of characters over a full novel
- Keep readers interested over hundreds of pages
- Create settings, characters, and plot points that make your story function
…and so many other things that I can’t possibly finish listing out here.
You will finally have an understanding of what it takes to be a professional writer, even if only part-time. You will learn how strong your mind really is – and it is strong.
But you will also learn your limits.
Halfway through my first NaNoWriMo, I learned that I can easily burn myself out. I was writing thousands of words a day, while working a full-time job, and I hit a wall where I had nothing left to give.
This is not a problem.
Failure is a healthy part of the process. Nothing will teach you how to grow faster than failure. And when you get back up, and you keep writing, you will realize something incredible about yourself…
You Have the Power to Write Books
If you can find a way to clear your schedule and commit to writing 12000 words a week, you can win NaNoWriMo.
And when you do, you will discover that you can be a writer, and one day you might fill the shelves with your own novels. After you write the first one, you might find yourself becoming an unstoppable writing machine.
So start writing.
And keep writing.
You got this.