by Lauren Rothbauer
It's about that time of year again. With the leaves changing, the temperature dropping, and Inktober just about done, we are only one day away from the start of NaNoWriMo. For those who do not know, NaNoWriMo is short for, "National Novel Writing Month". Like the previously mentioned Inktober, where you craft a piece of artwork based on a given prompt, NaNoWriMo is the challenge to write an entire novel in a month. I myself first heard about it as a high schooler, when I was part of a writing club and not very invested in writing. At least not to the same degree than I am right now. I think it's high time I take it on myself and stick with it.
It may be difficult to stick with. But no matter what you do or how far you get, there are still some guaranteed ups to taking on the challenge. These are just a few I can think of off the top of my head:
1. You'll have something to show for it!
I'm not just saying that "Hey, you at least tried", although it's still a valid point to be made. I'm saying that you'll hopefully learn a little bit about yourself and how you work as a result of taking on this challenge. People respond differently to assignments, deadlines, work environments, and authorities. And it's not necessarily bad if you respond differently than someone else. If you write best at a certain time of day or if you can take on more or less work, more power to you. Maybe you actually have difficulty dealing with deadlines and orders and have the chance to learn ways to trick yourself into getting work done (I'll probably go more into that in another post).
If you're talking in terms of something tangible, I suggest you get to work on that book. But there's no shame in taking some extra time when NaNoWriMo is over to finish it. NaNoWriMo doesn't take into account beta reading or editing, both of which can take several months or even a year to get through. Besides, after going through character creation, world building, and all that writing, you owe it to yourself to finish.
2. Work experience!
Even if it happens that you don't finish the novel, you'll still get a little taste of what it's like to be a writer. While you most likely won't get into the editing process at that point, you'll still know what the hard work feels like. Honestly, if you want to write for a living, you'll need to really be with it. You'll need some late nights and long hours. While the initial inspiration dies as you go on, you need to learn to write in spite of that, not to mention resisting the pull of other ideas and sticking to one project.
On the more general side of things, you could learn how you work yourself. What time of day is best for you to write, how you handle deadlines, how you function on bigger projects, your attitudes towards authority, and so on. If you find that you have difficulty sticking to your word or following the goals you set for yourself, you could adjust them or trick yourself into meeting them. Maybe you'll have your first all-nighter or get back into them again (Not something I really encourage, to be honest). Point is, learning how you work with something like this might help you apply certain tricks to other projects.
3. It's ok if the first draft sucks. In fact, it's supposed to.
The simple truth is this: If you go to publish the first draft of your book, you're insane. And anyone willing to publish the manuscript like that is also insane. But don't think about that. As mentioned previously, beta reading and editing take a long time to get through and NaNoWriMo doesn't really allow for that. At the same time, it can suck out the fun on taking on the challenge.
In the long run, you'll probably find things that could be done better or that your story went in a direction that you didn't intend it to. That's fine. That's what rough drafts are for. Focus on getting the story down on paper during this next month, and then take a week or two away from it. After that, you should be able to focus on what you want to (More on that in another post).
So did we leave anything out?
It's definitely possible. Comment below if you come up with anything that you wanted to throw in. If you think this post can help out other people who are taking on the challenge, feel free to share it with them. I'll be doing the challenge with you guys, as more of a first timer, and hopefully, I'll be able to help out with advice or certain insights. If I could recommend anything else, I would have to say to get the planning out of the way before you start writing, maybe even before the month starts if you can. This means characters, world-building, and story structure. But that's just me.
And I think that about covers it. I'll be here again next week with another update. While I am more of a first timer than anything, I hope we have a lot of fun with it. Best of luck, all! And happy writing!