Three reasons why you should Nano
Around this time of year, you might hear start hearing novelists muttering about something called ‘Nano’. All around the world, writers huddle together, discussing whether they will be Nano-ing this year.
Just what on earth is it?
For the uninitiated, Nano refers to Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month. It takes place annually in November, and the idea is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Nano started in 1999 with 21 participants – last year, over 250,000 people took part.
I’ve been Nano-ing since I first learnt about it in 2005, and, in spite of the blood, sweat and tears it produces each year, I always look forward to taking part again. Why? For three very good reasons.
Writing is a lonely profession, lets be honest. Other than the characters in our heads, a writer might not speak to anyone for hours, and it’s rare to find the non-writers in your life really understand the compulsion to get words on the page.
But during Nano, over a quarter of a million writers gather in one electronic space. There are forums where you’ll find everything from rants about how hard it is to get the words out to writing sprints to help you keep going. There are city based groups (several for Australia) where you can actually, physically meet up with fellow writers in your area.
All in all, a great writing community. Who wouldn’t want that?
To be successful in Nano, you need to be consistent. You need at least 1,600 words a day to reach the final target, and if you get behind in the first few days, it’s hell trying to catch up (trust me, I’ve tried).
This is great training to learn how to write every day. Post Nano, you needn’t keep it at that level, but just about every professional writer I’ve spoken to will confirm the need to write every day. Nano is a great way to practice this skill.
Nano will really get your creativity going. In order to hit the target, you need to learn how to turn your inner editor off and just write. No endlessly going back over a single word trying to get it right. No tweaking your opening sentence again and again and again….
In fact, one of the mottos of Nano is: ‘I’ll fix it in the rewrite’.
To be successful, you just need to let the words pour out of you onto the page, and when you can learn to get out of your own way like this, you’ll find some true gems in your writing that can be polished later. Yes, they’ll be some rubbish in there too, but by getting out of your own way, you’ll find your creative muscle gets stronger and stronger.
So head on over to Nanowrimo and sign up – it could just be the best thing you ever do for your writing. And I look forward to seeing you there!