Every November writers around the world collectively participate in a free on-line program, attempting to complete a 50K word manuscript. Developed as a non-profit organization, the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) offers tips, resources, a buddy program, and a place to chart your progress. Their mission statement states:
National Novel Writing Month organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. Our programs are web-enabled challenges with vibrant real-world components, designed to foster self-expression while building community on local and global levels.
Writing in groups is not my forte, but last fall I decided to try it. I registered for NaNo and diligently added my daily word count to the website.
I did not reach NaNo’s goal of 50K words per writer, but I didn’t expect to. My goal was to blast a rough draft and create a working manuscript to redo and redo and redo. That, I achieved. I know my characters and am now wandering the pages with them, tossing challenges and obstacles their way.
NaNo isn’t for everyone, and I was hesitant to try. But I’m glad that I did. If nothing else, I exercised my writing and used the month as a practice. Writers must train like athletes and musicians. Baseball players don’t step up to the plate and hit a home run the first time, nor do musicians sit at the piano bench and play Mozart without practice. Everyone needs to head back to the keys and work.
If you’re a writer, write. Every day. Programs like NaNo, books with prompts, and workshops are great avenues to jumpstart one’s writing, but the most important part of writing is to write. If a doing a daily word count helps you focus, then count. If editing a page before writing another engages you, then do it. And if working with other writers in a collective arena inspires you to push forward, then by all means, consider doing NaNo next fall, but in the meantime, continue to write. Every day.