10 November 2015 - 6:10 pm

Why NNWM: try something amazing

Part of the why NaNoWriMo is good for writers series.

A lot of people who come to NaNoWriMo for the first time have never written a novel before. This is something that often crops up: people of all ages stumble over the concept of NaNo and think ‘hey, I could have a go at that’.

Some of them have always wanted to write a novel. It might have been percolating at the back of their brain for years, and this is their excuse/chance to make it happen. Others come across it without the weight of that background and decide to have a go anyway.

This year, I am noticing that we’re getting several fanfic writers who have never written an original (i.e. non-fanfic) novel before, and this is their first try at that. (This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this happening, but I’ve noticed it cropping up more often this year!)

This is all great! NaNo has created a safe, supportive place for people to try something that is daunting, scary, and really big. It’s so easy to say ‘one day I’ll write a novel’; NaNo helps ‘one day’ be ‘today’, ‘now’, ‘yes’.

For some, it is a case of making time. For others, it’s a matter of confidence. Because despite some opinions, not all writers have faith in what they’re doing. We’re a self-critical lot, seldom with a good opinion about our own work or our own worth.

Striking out on your own on a scary adventure when you think you’re probably going to suck is not an easy thing to do. It’s much more comfy to stay at home and do other stuff.

Setting out on a lunatic challenge with a mob of equally insane people who don’t give a shit about how good your work is, on the other hand, is completely different. It’s not just about you any more; it’s something bigger, and you don’t have to rely purely on your own personal motivation any more. You have MLs and fellow writers to help carry you along, word count goals and word wars to push you onwards, and dare-swapping parties to help you take it all a bit less seriously (and give you inspiration when yours is flagging!).

In many ways, NaNo is breaking down barriers and opening doors to those who, for whatever reason, haven’t brought themselves to do it on their own. It doesn’t matter if it’s a long-standing wish or a sudden urge prompted by someone mentioning the idea of writing a novel: you have this amazing thing in front of you, ripe for a tasting. NaNo makes the impossible and improbable feel possible.

You’re rushed through those opened doors in a happy crowd, and it’s all good. Whatever happens, it’s all good.

Coming soon: you’re not alone

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