National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, is a challenge during the month of November that encourages writers from all over the world to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That roughly breaks down to about 1,667 words per day for the entire month. NaNoWriMo has a website where you can declare your writing project for this November, and keep up with your progress and the progress of those in your area. They have all kinds of articles and discussion boards that help writers when it comes to creativity blocks, naming characters, or if they just need to talk out their plot. NaNoWriMo also holds 'word sprints' that are 10-20 minute intervals where you sit down at your computer and attempt to write as much as you can.
I first participated in National Novel Writing Month in November of 2016, and it was the most challenging thing I had done. My first year I finished with less than 18,000 words written, and I felt like a failure. However, as I kept thinking about it, I got 18,000 more words in a much shorter time than I would have if I hadn't participated at all, and it taught me something about continuity and dedication on a day-to-day basis when it came to my writing.
So, I tried again the next year. I didn't win…again. I did get more words than before though, and I could see myself growing not only in my quality of writing but also in my ability to just get my words on paper. I'm trying again this year, and I'm determined to win this time.
I'm a classic over-thinker. I like to plan out every twist and turn my characters are going take throughout the length of my novel, usually before I even start it. NaNoWriMo challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and to just write without thinking everything through. When I overthink, I have a tendency to never finish.
My writing never meets my unrealistically high standards, I think I'm terrible, and I have an existential crisis for a few months before I decide to come back and try again. But with NaNoWriMo, it taught to fall in love with the process of writing rather than stress over every minute detail.
NaNoWriMo also gave me a community. Writing can be a lonely profession/hobby. Something that I didn't expect to happen was to find people who genuinely understand my struggle, and are right there for me every step of the way.
I believe every writer should give NaNoWriMo a shot, at least once. I won't lie, it's a really difficult month with a lot of late nights, and an ungodly amount of caffeine, but on November 30th when you submit your final word count, it'll all have been worth it.