If you are a writer or have any writing friends, these comments pop in social media quite often at this time of the year. Almost everyone is preparing for (or dreading) the start of National Novel Writing Month (that has, in fact, become quite international). Everyone, except for us, few people in the corner, watching this cheerful madness with unusual calm.
I have to admit that every year I feel charmed by the idea of a month devoted to writing, of trying to meet the 50k words mark and of sharing my successes and downfalls with the great community that NaNoWriMo gathers. Every year I play with the thought of joining and every year I decide against it.
I think NaNoWriMo is a great idea. A great way to encourage people to start their adventure with writing and actually get somewhere with their stories and ideas. But I think of it like I think of intensive dieting: it might get you to your immediate goal, but it won’ build a habit. And I think the habit – the habit of writing – is one of the most important things for a writer. That’s why even though every year I am tempted by the vision of madly typing whenever I can, I always choose the slower pace in hope to build up my writing habit. In the end, if I write as little as 500 words every day, that will give me over 180k words a year: a book and several stories. They will take longer to finish, but they might need less editing and rewriting later, so I might save some time anyway.
I will cheer on people taking part in NaNoWriMo and support them in their goal. I will be happy for them if they manage to write these 50k words in a month because it’s a great achievement! But at the same time, I will be sitting at my keyboard, getting my 500 words a day (and sometimes more, or less) down, hoping to build a habit that will stay with me for life. And every once a while, looking at the updates from my fellow writes taking part in this year’s NaNoWriMo, I will think: “Maybe next year?”
But this year, since the decision was made, I will just wish good luck and happy writing to all the participants. Even if you don’t “win” it, but manage to build your habit, if you get some words written not even participating: you’re still a winner, making steps towards your goals and dreams.
So… What’s your plan for November?
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.