One of the best things about NaNoWriMo — if you’re serious about winning anyway — is it forces you into a daily writing habit. After five years winning without a novel to show for it, I still hold that buckling down and writing an hour or more a day for a month straight has been nothing but beneficial.
I’ve been pulled in a number of different directions, creatively speaking, for the last half of this year, between several stops and starts on screenplays, writing/directing/producing a short film, and making an attempt at writing a stage play, I’d begun to feel pretty disjointed as a writer. Throw in a major health/fitness/weight loss effort on top of that, and you’ve got a recipe for creative ennui.
Oddly, I felt much the same way going into November last year, too. And while I pretty much hated what I ended up doing with a premise I still like, I came out of the month with a renewed desire to focus and create something quality. I’m beginning to feel that way again, and, to top it off, I don’t completely hate what I’m writing this month. I’m not a huge fan of how I’m writing it — I’m pretty out of practice when it comes to prose — but it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever written (that’s a tie between my first script and my second NaNoWriMo novel, if you were wondering).
So, why am I rambling on like this? For one, that’s just how things go in November. For another, with all the NaNo-related criticism and discouragement that seems to be floating around this year, I wanted to throw out my two cents for why NaNoWriMo is incredibly valuable, no matter what level of writer you are.
If writing is your hobby, then NaNoWriMo is a month when you can have a free-for-all, roller-coaster ride of a time reveling in said hobby.
If you want to take your writing from “hobby” to “serious effort,” then NaNoWriMo is the perfect way to get in the habit of writing daily — something the majority of “serious writers” will tell you is very, very important.
If you’ve been making a serious effort for a while and are feeling creatively blocked, NaNoWriMo gives you the freedom to write whatever the hell you want without abandon for 30 days straight. While you may end up tossing everything you’ve written, the key point is, YOU’VE WRITTEN. Once the month’s done, you can celebrate your breaking through the creative block by writing something quality again (and maybe even taking whatever you ended up with from the month’s adventures and taking it to the next level).
The point of NaNoWriMo has never been to have a novel ready to hit the bookshelves of your nearest Borders or Barnes & Noble on Dec. 1. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is, quite simply and quite profoundly, to free writers to write — no matter their skill level, their experience, their aspirations, or their hang-ups. For one month, we get to write without consequence and with no strings attached. And it’s my opinion that, at least once a year, there’s no greater gift for a writer than that.