I have a confession to make. I’m a NaNoWriMo failure. I’ve tried several years but never won. And yet, I keep trying because I still want to win, I still have ambition, and I still have projects I want to actually finish. Besides, NaNoWriMo is about more than a shiny badge on the official website.
You Don’t Need a Badge to Win
I haven’t won, but I don’t think that’s a reason not to try. I’ve walked away each year with more than I entered with. The event keeps me writing, which is the entire point of National Novel Writing Month, and even if you don’t finish a first draft in a month, you’ll still have a few more words on the page. Every novel, no matter how long or short, comes together one word at a time. If you don’t get the winner’s badge on the official NaNo website, then you still have your work.
It’s trite, but it’s true: you only fail challenges you never attempt. If you’ve been in a rut, struggle to validate writing time, or just need a giant cheer squad, this is your moment. Take advantage of the energy of this writing season to sit down and get busy. Christmas shopping can wait until next month. And, be honest, you’ll be doing it all online, anyway.
NaNoWriMo Connects You to Other Writers
One of my favorite things about NaNoWriMo is the communal element. Any other year, my local chapter holds weekly write-ins at the library, and there are late night composition sessions in coffee shops across the city. Because of COVID, community looks a bit different right now, but it’s still there. The forums are popping, online writing sessions bring aspiring authors together via Zoom, and social media tags make it easy to build your own support team.
After months of social distancing, the eager interaction with other writers buoys my muse and mood. I’m high risk. I go to empty parks on weekday mornings if I’m lucky. Cheering for Twitter friends as they race to hit deadlines with me is fun in the same way as college. Comradery drives us to do more, and we’re only ever in competition with ourselves.
You’ll Have Something at the End
I cannot stress how much it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a full novel at the end of November. We all want to win, of course, but it’s not like you lose anything by competing. In fact, if you put in minimal effort, you’ll come out with a sizable chunk of story. This isn’t The Great British Baking Show. You don’t have to put down the pen and step away from the keyboard when the clock strikes 12 on November 30th. You can – and should – keep going.
Do you NaNoWriMo? Have you ever won? What online communities best support you as a writer, and how do you take advantage of online socialization to boost morale? At the very least, you can treat NaNo as a spectator sport. Watching writers have 3 a.m. meltdowns over rebellious characters is high drama.