Why NaNoWriMo Works for Me

The annual novel-writing contest gives me clearly defined, manageable goals.

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As many of us already know, the first step in becoming, as they say, a “real” writer is to, well… write. Not write when the mood strikes, not “tomorrow,” not when you have some time off. To write (and to write well) involves a consistent effort. A daily regimen. The flexing of a muscle. Writing is a practice. And what better time to begin that practice than National Novel Writing Month?

NaNoWriMo is an annual novel-writing project taken on by professional and amateur writers from around the globe. Each November, scribblers young and old, new and seasoned, plotters and pantsers, come together and make a pledge to finish a 50,000 word novel in a month: the same length as classics like The Great Gatsby and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This is an ambitious task for even the most disciplined writers, mainly because it involves attaining an average daily word count of 1,667 (about one to two hours of writing for me). With the majority NaNo participants holding down full-time jobs, wrangling kids and pets, or upholding other adult responsibilities (like binge-watching all eleven seasons of Supernatural on Netflix), a great deal many will not meet their 50,000 word goal by November’s end. But the true test of a writer is in their resiliency. To hammer out fifty more words before breakfast. To drag and claw your way to a local writer’s meet-up while your velvet onesie calls your name. To keep going when everything (and everyone) around you is shouting, “For the love of sweet merciful Jesus, STOP THE MADNESS! AND SHOWER.”

As a fanfiction writer, NaNoWriMo works for me. It gives me clearly defined and, dare I say, manageable goals. And the NaNo online dashboard is an essential part of this process. Updating my word count at the end of each day and seeing the bar graph shoot up towards the line is a huge motivator. Earning personal achievement badges (including one for overindulging on caffeinated beverages… we’ve all been there) feels nice, the little colourful circles lighting up my dash. Getting updates from friends and co-writers in my local region helps keep me on track (and only slightly competitive).

Last year was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo. And I won. (DID YOU HEAR THAT, MOM?) Because the only requirement for winning is that you reach the goal you pledged to accomplish: to write 50,000 words by the end of November. NaNo 2015 helped me kickstart a novel-length Drarry fic I’d been dreaming up for ages, but had yet to find the motivation to put pen to paper. This year, I’m continuing that story. I’m picking up where I left off eleven months ago, after shelving the fic in favour of less joyful writing projects.

NaNoWriMo 2016 is my time to shine again. My time to hunker down. To focus. To kick 24-hour days in the ass. And to write. Because it is through writing, that one becomes real.

Challenge yourself. Click here to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2016.

About Malory Beazley (35 Articles)
Malory has taken her interest in fandom to the academy, penning a Master's thesis entitled "Out of the Cupboards and Into the Streets!: Harry Potter Genderfuck Fan Fiction and Fan Activism." You can find her in Nova Scotia, sipping coffee, writing fiction, and reading slash.

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