Once upon a time, I enslaved myself to the notions of inspiration and mood. “I need to feel like writing”, I’d say. Or “I need to be inspired”, and other comforting lies.
I’m not sure what exactly snapped me out of that mindset, but National Novel Writing Month surely helped. If you aren’t familiar, NaNo is a yearly challenge hosted on Nanowrimo.org, where participants attempt to write 50,000 words in a single month. Easy for some, but impossible for many.
I didn’t care for NaNo when I was younger. It always seemed to steal my friends away from me for a month. I also didn’t understand why people needed a special event in order to write. After all, I got writing done on my own time.
At that age, maybe I didn’t need NaNoWriMo. Many of them did. My friends, generally speaking, only did their writing during the event. It was something festive that they looked forward to. They wrote with reckless abandon for four weeks, while I plodded along slowly year round.
For some people, NaNo gets them to write. That’s what some people need. It’s true that for every aspiring novelist with a pile of half-finished scraps, frustrated that they can’t seem to finish anything, there are many more who just never start. That’s a much more serious problem.
I didn’t need NaNo to get me to write. But when I got older and more preoccupied with life, I needed something to help me break past my walls. I’d write the same passage again and again, unsatisfied, until I gave up. I’d fuss over outlines for weeks or months before even attempting to start. I knew how to write, but I didn’t know how to write quickly or to seek completion. I didn’t know how to write as a habit. That is what NaNo gave me.
Now, assuming all goes well, I sit down to write every day. It’s still hard sometimes, but I try my best. When I started NaNoWriMo in 2014, I had nothing of note. Just endless scraps of half-done stories and false starts, and barely enough to matter. I’d written so much, but had so little. Now, I have the beginnings of a body of work.
So thank you, NaNoWriMo. I look forward to you as November approaches