November has ended, and with it National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) has also come to a close. For those of you, like me just a few short weeks ago, who are unfamiliar with NaNo, it is a push to encourage storytellers to get their words down. The goal for each participant is to write 50,000 words in 30 short days. There are some prizes for ‘winners,’ but the writers entering this project aren’t in it for the prizes…they just want to write. They want the structure of this project to help them organize their schedules to force them to make time for their novels, for their writing.
This was my first time participating in NaNo, and even though I did not make the 50,000 word goal, I gained so much from this experience. Trying to meet a specific word count each day is challenging, and with the comings and goings of life, sometimes impossible. But just having that goal does something to a writer…it makes us strive harder, squeeze out the time somehow, make up lost days if need be. It’s a great real life model for writing one day at a time.
The best part of NaNo was the overwhelming support from other NaNo-ers. On the NaNo facebook group I joined, we celebrated each other’s milestones and encouraged our ‘teammates’ through times when either we were failing our writing, or our writing seemed to be failing us. Just Write! was the main theme. ‘No time to edit!’ ‘Editing comes later…Just get the words out!’ we encouraged. As we worked to complete our individual goals, we tried to help our teammates reach their goals as much as we could.
But the cheer-leading aspect wasn’t the only thing that turned writing into a team sport; NaNo even comes with sprints! Many of us depended on word sprinting against others to achieve our daily goal, or just to get the juices flowing. And talking about what we had to do to find the time to write–like escape from our children, hide in closets at work, or re-adjust our sleep schedule–added to the team spirit.
So now it’s over. Until next year, that is. But all of us who participated, whether ‘winners’ or not, have gained so much more than just the number of words we’ve completed: we’ve gained the knowledge that we–each one of us–can do it! it will take time and dedication, but we have it in us to write that novel we’ve been dreaming about. We’ve gained the knowledge that there are thousands of writers out there, gliding their pens across paper and tapping their fingers across keyboards, who know exactly what it’s like. So when the writing gets tough, don’t forget that! We’re out there…just give a holler, and your teammates will appear to cheer you on and help you race to the finish line!