I Won NaNoWriMo And All I Got Was A Sense of Smug Satisfaction

Not gonna lie. I like National Novel Writing Month. I can almost see the thousands of eyes rolling in unison. Hear me out.

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo to al the cool kids) takes place every November. Writers sign up and update their progress online as they (drumroll, please) write a novel for 30 days. The target word goal is 50,000 words in 30 days, to be exact. Meet that goal and you are declared a victor. Don’t meet that goal and nothing bad happens.

No punishments, no humiliations. Nobody’s locking you in the stockades and pelting you with bad syntax.

You just resume writing whenever you want.

See, that’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo. Writers hold each other accountable for the entire month, checking in on their progress, offering encouraging and inspiring words, and shepherding their projects through. Some writers finish. Others do not. But that’s okay. This isn’t a competitive sport. Writing is a solitary activity and the only person you should be competing against is yourself. Are you writing a little more every day? Are you taking the day off for self care or tending to personal matters? Whatever works for you and gets your story written. NaNoWriMo proves a little progress goes a long way.

My manuscript is far from finished, but I did squeeze 50,000 words out by Thanksgiving, so there’s that. Kudos for me! I’m still writing, every day. I have a deadline coming up and this book ain’t gonna write itself. That’s where NaNoWriMo helps. The interactivity of tracking your progress works for a visual learner like me. Type in the number of words you’ve written for that day and the NaNoWriMo site calculates a total like magic. It’s great for holding your feet to the fire and getting you to commit to your projects.

NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing a fully-completed novel. It’s about writing a shitty first draft. Like, really bad. Any writing you do — even shitty first drafts — still counts. After all, you can’t edit blank pages. Any writing you do during NaNoWriMo is good. maybe you’ll shave off a few words, overhaul the entire thing, or trunk the botched attempt. The creative process is a messy, frustrating, time-consuming pain in the ass. If NaNoWriMo can give you a boost or incentive to take your book beyond the planning stages and onto the page, then your journey has begun. You may not reach your final destination or get sidetracked along the way, but you’re on the move, and forward momentum is what you want.

Am I smug about winning? Yes, yes I am. Considering this book was an idea in my head two months ago and now the characters live and breathe in a Scrivener file is nothing short of magic.

I received a fancy-schmancy certificate which tells the world that I have no life and would rather spend part of autumn staring at a screen and making imaginary people do stuff through words.

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