I first participated in National Novel Writing Month in 2010 and have remained a participant since. (I did take a break last year to study for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test instead since it fell the day after NaNo.) What began for me as a shy, solo, mad dash for words soon became much more, and I’m thankful for NaNoWriMo for several reasons.
1) NaNoWriMo taught me that I am not a novelist; I am a poet. I’d always dabbled in poetry, but thought that what I’d really write was novels. NaNo taught me otherwise.
2) The first reason might sound like the opposite of one thing that NaNo promotes, that there is a book inside everyone. But the way I see it is this: NaNo not only served to teach me where my strengths in writing lie, it also gave, and continues to give, me 30 days of ‘permission’ to myself every year to chase one of the longer stories in my head. I have yet to completely finish any of these, but I’ll get there. These are the stories I tell only for myself. And if one day, 20 years from now, miraculously one of them is publishable? I’ll count that as a happy bonus.
3) It’s taught me the beginnings of plotting… and not plotting, both. It’s taught me to listen to the voices in my head. It’s taught me to stop standing in my own way, or at least as much as I can manage that anyway.
4) And perhaps most importantly? It’s given me friends. Many of them. People who are very dear to me know who I most likely never would have met otherwise. People like the Ferret girls.
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? What has the challenge done for you?