If you’re unfamiliar with the term NaNoWriMo, I would like to take a brief moment to introduce you. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an incredible 30-day challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The novel can be about anything you like: historical romance, speculative zombie horror, crime thriller – all is cool in the land of NaNoWriMo. At the end of the month, you paste your efforts into a form, the website officially verifies your wordcount and if you’ve exceeded 50,000 words, you get a cute downloadable certificate and a freaking novel. (You can read up on the official rules on the website: mostly it’s just don’t write anything before the 1st of November).
Wait, this sounds torturous! you say. AND YOU’RE RIGHT. (Savour the feeling; who knows when it’ll happen again?) Writing 50k words in a month is no small feat. Works out to 1,667 words per day. Depending on how prolific you are, that’s… quite a few words. Writing takes time, too. I don’t want to give up my social life/ obsessive working out/ three hours of video games a day! So why on earth should I do this thing? Well, here’s the thing. It’s a month. One single month. You get quite a few of them per year, and in the grand scheme of things it’s not that hard to put your life on hold for a while. Think about it. (Of course, I’m not saying you have to. I’m just saying, why not try applying the logic of: Why the hell not?)
Still not seeing why you should do this, huh?
Because human beings are made of stories. Come on, admit it: you’ve thought, as we all have, that you have a book in you. A story that is burning to get out. Even if it’s crap, even if no one ever reads it but you and the NSA: every single person on this planet is bursting with stories. Getting that story out there may be the most cathartic experience you will ever have.
Imagination is the most incredible gift human beings have access to. It’s what allows us to creatively solve problems ranging from business decisions to finding ways to explain things in foreign languages. It’s what lets us empathize with people even though we cannot directly share their experience. It’s what lets us fall in love (although that’s a whole story on its own). In short, imagination is what moves us ALL. (Not the Circle of Life – but someone used imagination to come up with that, so there.)
Seriously, do this for yourself. The point of NaNoWriMo isn’t necessarily to write a good novel, it’s to break the dam that holds everything inside of you. Later, after you’ve done that, after the thirty glorious days are over, you can go back and prettify your novel, fix the grammar mistakes and change the names so your boss is unrecognizable in the story (just kidding). But the important thing is to do it.
I’m posting this now so that you have the month of October to get over your excuses, teach your partner to cook and plan your novel. Yes, it’s a hard thing to insert into a busy, full life. But really, why not? There’s an hour or two to be found each day. Write on the bus, in your lunch hour, after your spouse has gone to sleep. You can do this thing!
I hope you’ll join me in this crazy endeavour. I’ll be posting a couple of my own ideas and observations on how to plan and write over the next couple of weeks. November is coming – are you going to own it? (For ideas on how to
survive OWN NaNoWriMo, check out Part Two of this series – How I Plan to Survive NaNoWriMo)
— Update —
Under advice by people who know about these things, I have added a picture. I hope it lights the fires of inspiration in your heart. 😛