Why Do NaNoWriMo . . . Again?

By guest blogger Glenn Walker

When I was asked to contribute a guest blog about the NaNoWriMo, I jumped right in, just like the NaNoWriMo, and churned one out – and much like the publishing industry itself, I was told it wasn’t a good fit.  Good friend and the queen of Fear of Writing, Milli Thornton, quickly rattled off a few more appropriate topics.  Number one was not only why do  the NaNoWriMo, but why, like me, do it eight times in a row?

Well, the answer of course is easy.  I’m a masochist.  I obviously must be.  Why else would I subject myself to this process every November?  And why would I keep coming back?  Over and beyond the concept that I think all writers are masochists, there is another reason, a much more palatable one – to write.

When you become entrenched in the writing community, you quickly learn there are two kinds of writers.  There are writers who work and work and are always on one project or another, and are always in the midst of the words.  They are doing it, and if they are lucky, and they have the talent – these are the ones who make it.

The other kind of writer is the talker.  Oh yeah, they talk a good game, they know their stuff, but you never really see them at work.  Sure, maybe they have one or two finished or unfinished novels in their desk drawer or on disc that have never and/or will never be accepted, or revised, or edited.  They’re not writers, at least not anymore, they just talk about it.

November’s National Novel Writing Month is a dividing line, and a barbed wire barrier.  It firstly keeps the workers from becoming talkers, and second, it gives the talkers a chance to redeem themselves and become workers again.  The goal, bottom line, of the NaNoWriMo is to make you write.  Butt in seat, fingers on keyboard, words on page.  Do it.

Now a lot of the workers also have their share of pitfalls in their busy writing lives.  Sometimes they get bogged down in one project, so intent on that little world or universe you lose objectivity as its creator.  Fresh winds and new ideas not only rejuvenate but give new insight to old ideas.  The NaNoWriMo is a fresh wind, in that you must create a whole new novel from scratch.  November is one big walk in the park or long cold shower – you know, those getaways that give you the energy to tackle an old project that’s been dragging you down.

National Novel Writing Month also provides opportunities to meet other writers.  Whether it is making writing buddies or posting on the message boards at the NaNoWriMo website, or actually attending the in-person Write-Ins in your region – it is always good to talk with and network with other writers.  If only to compare notes and experiences and even talk about trends in the industry, writing is a solitary endeavor, and it’s always good to know you’re not alone.

The newness of the NaNoWriMo also keeps you fresh period.  As I indirectly confessed earlier, this is year number eight for me and the NaNoWriMo.  I have finished my novel once within the given thirty days, but I have finished the novel started in almost every case.  I’ve edited and revised and submitted those novels as well.  And it should most importantly be noted, had it not been for the NaNoWriMo, they never would have been written to begin with.

Imagine that, every November a new manuscript to work on.  Some folks work their whole lives to get one manuscript.  If that alone isn’t enough to get you to do the NaNoWriMo, I don’t know what is.


GlennWalkerGlenn Walker has been a friend of Fear of Writing for some time dating back to hosting the FoW Chatroom back in 2004.  He now shares his time writing about pop culture at Welcome to Hell, reviewing French fries at French Fry Diary and talking comics on the All Things Fun! Live Comics Vidcast.  And that’s just a few of the things he’s up to.  If you want to know more check him out on Facebook.

3 Responses to Why Do NaNoWriMo . . . Again?
  1. Lois Eighmy
    December 2, 2010 | 10:19 AM

    I believe I’m a cross between the two. I write and write and write, but I find it difficult to sit down and revise my work. This time, I plan to sit my butt in chair and start revising. I don’t really know how, but I have books that will hopefully help. 🙂

    I’ve done (and won) Nanowrimo five times now, and I love it every time. It’s what got me writing when I couldn’t come up with anything to write about, and I haven’t stopped since! 😀

    Of course, Fear of Writing helped to. 😉

    Thanks for writing this awesome article. It sure rang true for me!

  2. @fearofwriting
    Twitter: fearofwriting
    December 6, 2010 | 10:35 AM

    Glenn, you amaze and inspire me. Not only with your eight-time NaNo winning streak, but the fact that you’ve finished nearly all those novels and submitted them too. I think that’s the even bigger test of NaNo . . . what will the winner do with those 50K words?

    So far, the lure of NaNo has not penetrated me. I’ve found out over the years I’d rather be a screenwriter. But you present a compelling case! If this was Sept or Oct 2011, I’d be letting you talk me into it and probably make a beeline for the NaNo site to commit.

  3. Evelyn
    November 1, 2011 | 9:56 AM

    This will be my eleventh year, with 5 “wins.” But, to me, every year is a win. I got 37,000 words my first year, in 1998. Each year, I ‘won’ by writing several thousand more words that I would otherwise have had. I also ‘won’ because I had a fleshed out idea (every year except the first) that I can go on to develop, or leave alone if it is not “good enough.” Either way, it is a win.

    Why do I do it? Well, I guess I am a masochist, too. But, mainly I do it because I am a writer and I love to write. The competition gives a little social interaction that is usually missing in my writing life.

    That first year, I almost had to sit on my hands to keep from starting early. I started at midnight, my time. Every year since has been the same. Each year is like a new “first time.”

    Good Nanoing, everyone.

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