Most of those who are participating in NaNoWriMo, I imagine, are creative thinkers and dreamers who often fantasize about one day writing fiction for a living. There would be nothing like lazily getting up at noon, enjoying a cup of coffee on the balcony, and lounging around in your sweat pants or pj’s until four when you’ll start your writing. And you’ll smile while you write because it’s all fun. But that’s all this is; a fantasy.
NaNoWriMo can teach a writer some valuable lessons in determination and endurance. It is also a factor in a writer’s decision whether to continue pursuing the dream of being a full time fiction writer.
NaNoWriMo teaches us…
…that life doesn’t stop for writing.
With NaNoWriMo taking place in November, probably one of the busiest months of the year as American’s plan for Thanksgiving and writers around the world get ready for Christmas, there is very little chance (or absolutely NO chance, if you’re a real person, that is) of pushing the pause button in order to write. You will still have daily chores, a family to take care of, a paying job to work, and at some point eating and sleeping have to factor in there somewhere.
How can this benefit us? The main lesson learned here is that if you want to be a full time fiction writer, if that is your goal and your dream, you’re going to have to stop using the excuse of never having time to write because of your job, or your kids, or your family obligations, or a holiday is coming, etc. If you’re going to be a writer, you’ll make time for it.
…that writing fiction is hard work.
Imagining a story and seeing it play out in your head is one thing. Actually writing it down using concise description and accurate detail while also keeping the timeline and previous scenes in your head for consistency is HARD. I’ve always said that beginning a novel is the easy part. But as time wanes, it gets harder and harder to manage your character’s daily lives. It gets more difficult to push through those scenes that lead up to the climax.
If you can manage to push through those hard times to the end of your novel, then you come away with a clearer image of what writing is really about.
…what a rough draft is all about.
In order to meet the word count requirements of NaNoWriMo, you soon understand that what you are writing is not a final copy. If you spend too much time worrying about how a sentence sounds or which word you should substitute for another, or whether your grammar is spot on or not, you’ll find yourself falling further and further behind until you give up out of frustration.
Lesson here is that you should push through it first and worry about the rest later. For more on this, read this article.
Sources: Personal experience