Using NaNoWriMo as a force of good

It is November and the annual Nanowrimo is currently being pursued by thousands of people all over the globe. It is quite an amazing event and the enthusiasm and support for writing gives me a nice reminder of why I like creating my stories and aggressively typing on my keyboard in the first place.

I am undertaking Nano – not with a single story, but with two stories. I also count in my two essays for university and articles, because otherwise I may just smash my screen with a sledge hammer already. Although my time is very sparse these days, I have kept a little tabs on the rest of the community.

There are a lot of things I do not like about Nano. One of them is the fact that I have tried for several years and always fail to win. Another is self-loathing people who want to a) write a novel but b) don’t want to and c) moan about it.
Listen here.
No one is holding a gun to your head (I mean… I hope not). Nano is voluntary and it is supposed to be absolutely wild writing for a month, but also just fun. If you really feel pressured, just stop. Take a breather and ignore the imaginative goal someone else set up for you. Many writers seem to be happy about rambling on and on about their Story and their Characters and all the Details, but when it comes down to writing it, it changes. I feel the same thing, we all do. But instead of moaning about it, here are some things I suggest instead, that will perhaps turn Nano into a productive, postive experience instead. Take it from someone who has been that cringe and got a bit of her shit together instead:

  1. Set off specific times to write
    I know life happens. Despite all the “we all have 24 hours in a day” bullcrap you are hearing from here and there, then that is just not true. Maybe you share household responsibilities with a partner, maybe you do all chores yourself. Maybe you are like me – a full time student with a job and volunteer work. While it is tempting to let go of all personal responsibilities and just crash through Nano, the world does not stop spinning because of your little project. Parent yourself. Plan ahead, so you can both clean, eat real food and know when you can write. Whether that is on the commute, in the break, or half an hour when you first wake up. Set up the routine. Set the alarm.
  2. Pick a different goal
    50.000 words is some number that someone dropped during a brainstorming sesh because that sounded like the size of a novel. It does not mean you need to follow that, not even if you write in the hopes of getting a script to send to publishers. If you feel overwhelmed, you can pick a lower number. It will still be more words than what you would have written otherwise.
  3. Stop procastinating, you silly beansprout
    I realised that I do two things when I am stressed out. One is social media. Another is online window shopping. I was quite aware of the first, but checking out online shopping sites did not feel as time-wasting because “it was just a couple of pages”. Figure out what you do when your brain goes idle, so you avoid wasting an hour just scrolling on Twitter or worse, moaning about how far you are behind with the word count. Time is precious. Make use of the Podomoro method, if that is something for you, that allows you to take designated breaks.
  4. Allow yourself to rebel
    The romantic version of a Nano’er is a Writer with glasses, a cup of warm tea or coffee, sitting in front of their laptop in a cozy room. Maybe wearing a chunky jumper. They have one story and they know exactly what to write (and also they do not have any interruptions or other responsibilities). Ah. Isn’t that the dream?
    You do not need to break your neck trying to squeeze out a story, especially if you a) do not really plan on doing much with it or b) have not planned it very well. I have a couple of stories, but I also see my essays and articles as contributing to the word count – because they are all adding to my portfolio and I probably wouldn’t be producing that much without a word count to reach.

Here’s what I have done in November so far:

  • Written an article for Financial Times (it will be blasted on LinkedIn and ya’ know it)
  • Written a position paper for a conference
  • Written several blog posts
  • Finally developed and getting to write a story that has been in the back of my head for a while and that I could actually see being published out on the web
  • Got a shitton of progress in writing a story as a gift for a friend
  • Written two assignments for university

I can assure you that this is 1454596873495% more productive than I am otherwise. Who cares that I did not write on a SINGLE novel for a whole month? Look at all these words that have been churned out! I am like a printer gone rogue that spews out iliterate words en masse! It is wonderful!

What separates you from being an actual Writer and not just another beansprout in a field of beansprouts that just want to be a Writer?

You write. You produce content. You tap on that keyboard and you churn it out. Nano puts a focus on quantity over quality. Of course your material is not ready to be published on the 1st of December, but sometimes we get so focused on writing everything perfectly, that we don’t get anything written at all. Because we are not in the right mood. Because we only have fifteen minutes and cannot get the creative brain in gear. No, instead, just tap things out and allow it to be absolutely terrible – and then edit once the month is up.

I look forward to share all the shit writing I’ve been doing in an edited, polished and glammed-up version. I hope you do the same.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

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