This is Nano month so I’ve been looking at the experience of doing this challenge. Last week’s blog looked at how to survive the month. This week I’m looking at the experience in general- the highs and lows.
Join the Club
The first time you do NaNoWriMo it can feel daunting, exciting, scary, and a little bit like you are joining some strange club with this month of writing as a sort of initiation ritual/test. if you make it to the end, and get the winner t shirt, you are in!
The thing with any challenge is that the first time you do it, you simply can’t know what it is going to be like for you. Other people can tell you their experiences and where they faltered or fell, or perhaps, where they flew and amazed themselves. But that doesn’t mean you will do the same, or at least not at the same times as they did. You will have your own highs and lows.
People who have done it before might be cynical, based on their own failure to finish. Or they will be overly enthusiastic because they wrote more than 50000 words. What they don’t tell you is that their writing will never see the light of day because it was 50000 shades of sh*te. This is the ‘bad’ of Nanowrimo, that it can feed people’s self doubt, ‘if I can’t do Nano, am I really a writer?’ (yes you are), or that so much of what is written is just plain bad, and it doesn’t ever become a novel, or even a short story.
You can get to the end with 50000 words or more on your computer, all safely backed up and ready to be played with. This years winner t-shirt proudly worn and you might feel great. Yes! You did it! Or you might look at the document and wonder whether it was all worth it? It doesn’t seem very…..well, good? This is when you swear you’ll never do that again, what a stressful waste of time. But chances are you will because if you didn’t hit the 50000 this time, then you will want to next time, and if you did hit it, then you will want to do it again, or a version of it at least. It is a bit like a drug – just one more, just a little bit.
Then, if you do it again, your past experience will influence your approach. You may prepare better. This time you will have that second back up device. You might even decide to do your own nano, (whisper it but people sometimes set their own word goals), you might go lower or higher. Some people decide to go off and be alone for part of the month, really taking it seriously. Others decide they want to finish what they started the previous year having not looked at it ever since. Maybe it’s not so bad after all.
Coming to it for a second or even a third time will be a different experience to that first, exciting time. If this is your first Nano and you are struggling, don’t worry, you can do this again. In fact you could do it any month of the year. Maybe November isn’t such a good pick for you, maybe January works better? Get together with some writer friends and have your own nano event. Set your own rules, your own rewards.
The good of nano, is that it shows you that you can write more than you thought. It introduces you to new thinking about yourself and your writing. It may have made you some new writer friends. You might even end up with the beginnings of a novel, or finish one you’d already started. Maybe you have come up with a whole new idea, a whole new genre even!
The 1667 Words
Whatever you do in November, you will end up with words. Probably more words than you have ever written in a month before (unless you have done Nano before obviously). So even if you didn’t hit the 50k goal, you have still achieved more words, and also proved to yourself that you can do this. You can write more than you ever thought you could.
One thing is for sure, it will have changed you as a person and as a writer.
You can put on that t shirt, post the winner badge on your blog and know that you ‘won’ NaNoWriMo and you are a writer.
Now go write!