Why National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Works For Me, by Helene Young
Hi, my name’s Helene and I’m an addict.
There, I’ve said it. I’m an addict who’s hooked on writing and creating stories. I’m addicted in a way that has me reaching for the light in the small hours of the morning, dragging a t-shirt over my head and heading for the office, just as surely as a smoker fumbles for a cigarette first thing.
It’s an affliction I’ve had for most of my life, but in the last ten years it’s become all consuming. Writing rules my life – just ask my family.
Novembers are particularly difficult. November is NaNoWriMo and last year I again joined hundreds of thousands of writers around this planet striving to complete the challenge. No one’s making me do it – no one’s holding a gun to my head – but I line up to be part of it. Every one of my published books started life as a NaNo project, so it works for me.
So what is it? National Novel Writing Month is a community of writers, both online and in face-to-face groups, who commit to writing fifty thousand words in November.
Fifty thousand words in thirty days equates to one thousand, six hundred and sixty-six per day. Easy, right? Yes, provided you write every day… My flying roster is unpredictable so I know by the last week of November I’ll be trying to write five thousand words a day to catch up. What I’ve discovered during the NaNo process is that intense writing provides some of my clearest work.
There’s something almost cathartic about sitting alone and typing for an entire day without interruption. The words flow, the ideas become almost stream of consciousness and the story rockets along. When I’m editing I can identify the passages I’ve written on those last few days because I rarely need to do too much to them.
Those last days are also the ones when sitting on my backside for eight hours will leave me energized and on a high – no need for a glass of champagne or a long walk to finish the day!
NaNo proves to me that I write best under pressure. I need a deadline – even a self-imposed limit – to keep me writing and focused. It’s an integral part of my creative process. Perhaps it’s the analytical pilot side of my brain exerting some control…
As a professional writer I have to respect my publisher’s timeline and produce finished copy when it’s required. NaNo helps hone that skill a little more each year. It’s worth doing for that benefit alone.
Are you a NaNo fan? Has it influenced your work? Or do you have your own method of feeding that addiction to writing? A retreat with fellow writers? A special time when you head to your cave and write?
You’re amongst friends here so it’s safe to share.