Tuesday, 3 October 2017

NaNoWriMo

It's this time of the year again: NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month.

The premise is simple: write 50,000 words in the month of November (about 1667 a day.) Set aside some time every day and write. By the end of November, hopefully, you'll have a first draft.

One of my worst enemies is procrastination, and without deadlines I procrastinate even more. I'm the student who started writing her papers forty-eight hours before the deadline and stayed up all night cramming an 800 page book before an exam.
That is why I love NaNoWriMo. It's a deadline, albeit a fake one. I just don't work well without pressure and this is why I attempt to pressure myself whenever I can. NaNoWriMo is a bunch of writers, writing alongside me, and I feel like I've committed. And now I have to see it through.

Not everyone is a fan of NaNoWriMo. I can understand that. It's not helpful to sit down with a fever or a headache or if you're simply too tired after an exhausting day and are writing down words just for the sake of writing down words. This is why NaNoWriMo definitely isn't for everyone.

But for me it is the permission to write crap. It is the permission to just write a first draft and worry about editing later. It's the permission to suck.
I used to stare at white space: Scrivener, my phone, sometimes a physical notebook...just stare. Every sentence I wrote wasn't good enough to publish, so I would delete them. Every paragraph was uninspired and bland. Deleted. I'd go to bed with as much white space left on the page as I started with.

NaNoWriMo is the permission to write a story–an entire story, from beginning to end. It does not matter if it’s any good or if the chosen words are the right words. Everything wrong can be fixed during the editing process. Editing is hard work, sure, but you can’t edit without first having a story.

I needed, and still need, that permission to write crap. Because once I’ve written something, I can fix it later. But if I don’t allow myself the freedom to create without judgement, the white space will never be filled.

NaNoWriMo kills the fear for me, and the deadline (the end of the month) is what motivates and pressures me.

If you like to edit as you write or if you like to work slower and finish with a cleaner first draft than you would after 30 days of frantic writing, then no, it’s probably not for you. If 1667 words a day is too much, then it may not be for you either and that’s fine.

But if fear of failure, procrastination and other shiny things keep you from writing then maybe it’s worth a try.

Are you a NaNoWriMoer? How do you motivate yourself? Do you need a deadline? Or can you just write? Let me know in the comments.

[I've published a version of this post on the blog of my writing group earlier this year. It can be found here.]

6 comments:

  1. While I don't participate myself, I always enjoy seeing everyone's posts about NaNoWriMo and following the progress being made. It's great the it takes the pressure off you and allows you to just rite without fear or without editing as you go. Just. Write. I'll be looking forward to your updates when the time comes!

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    1. :D Yes, exactly! I love November, haha!

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  2. Good luck with that. I've never participated in this since I'm not much of a writer, but I do love the freedom to write without judgment that it allows those who are writers.

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  3. spot on! NaNoWriMo is exactly all this for me too! Stop procrastinating, setting a deadline, write write write no matter hat. It doesn't matter if the story without worrying whether I like it or not. Hope you post more about your NaNoWriMo adventure! Love this post Olivia!

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    1. Can't wait to see more about your writing as well during November :)

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  4. I, too, love the permission to write crap. :) I think it's great for getting in the habit of writing and seeing where you can squeeze it into your life.

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