There’s something about the atmosphere during NaNoWriMo that reminds me of Christmas. In fact, November is like a month-long Christmas day for me. There’s pure excitement the night before it begins. There’s the rollercoaster ride of energy highs and lows as it goes on (giddiness, contentedness, playfulness, sleepiness, and so on). There’s the joy of spending the time with people you care about. And don’t forget the presents—writing goodies, Scrivener and Storyist discounts and CreateSpace books! (You don’t ask for those for Christmas too? Must just be me…)
When I think about why I do NaNoWriMo, it seems like an obvious answer. I do it because I love it. But what is it about NaNo that makes me put aside my other commitments and dedicate one of the busiest months on my calendar to writing madness? Here’s the best explanation I can come up with for…
Why I NaNo
The first answer that comes to mind is community. If there’s one thing I love above all others, it’s the writing community that flourishes during NaNoWriMo and its Camp sessions during the summer. I’ve met some of my closest writing friends through NaNoWriMo—people I write with daily, entrust my stories to, and talk to about anything and everything. Without NaNoWriMo, chances are I would never have met them.
Then, of course, there’s the whole writing a novel business. (Mustn’t forget about that!) My recently completed WIP, Her Clockwork Heart, was written almost exclusively during NaNoWriMo months. In fact, it began life during a freewrite session in the Camp NaNoWriMo of June 2012. The very nature of NaNoWriMo—the ambitious word count goal, the short time-frame and the emphasis on quantity over quality—is what saves my writing from stagnation. I can lock my inner editor away and really have fun on a project, letting the story take me where it wants to go.
That’s another reason I love to NaNo: it puts me in touch with my muse. I can plan a story to within an inch of its life before the month starts, but as soon as I start to write, my inner storyteller follows a path of her own. And that’s okay. My muse is unleashed during NaNoWriMo in a way she isn’t in non-NaNo months, so I let her have free reign. She’s the boss, after all.
How I NaNo
After creating a challenge specifically designed to encourage steady, daily writing, you would think my NaNoWriMo word count would reflect that discipline. Nope. November is an incredibly hectic month for me, this year in particular, which has made writing steadily a real difficulty. To make up for my poor start to the month, I’ve had to throw in a 10k day, with a few 5k days to come, making my word count chart look something like a drunken giant’s drawing of a staircase.
That wonky staircase chart isn’t a characteristic restricted to this year’s NaNoWriMo. It’s featured prominently in the two NaNoWriMos and four Camp NaNoWriMos I’ve done and appeared sporadically throughout non-NaNo months as well. That’s why the Write Chain Challenge is so important to me; it’s teaching me how to write consistently. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m taking steps. One of them is to word sprint daily, another feature of how I NaNo.
If you’ve read my Why I Sprint post, you’ll know that I first discovered the joys of word sprinting through NaNoWriMo. Wordscrim Wednesdays, Write Club Fridays and Tea Party Saturdays are the highlights of my writing week. Without these glorious sprints, I wouldn’t have a hope of writing 50,000 words in a month, so I cling to them with all the strength in my writing-toned fingers.
What is it about NaNoWriMo that draws you to it? Do you have any strategies for approaching it or just go with the flow?