WEEK 45 - How Nanowrimo has Changed My Life and How it Has Been Recently
Week 45 and halfway through Nanowrimo 2021! Nanowrimo is an inspiration and structure that supports process - here's how it changed my life and a snippet of how it's been going for me.
Week 45 and seven (7) more weeks to go to the end of the year. The Singapore Writers’ Festival (SWF) this year is also coming to an end and… wasn’t it just yesterday when we were talking about how we wished that SWF 2021 would feature onsite panels and events? (It did happen, to a certain degree) But one thing the SWF often happens with, and is one of the other events I look forward to at the end of the year is Nanowrimo - or National Novel Writing Month.
Started in the United States, Nanowrimo is a month - often in November - of imagination and endless typing where hundreds and thousands of us attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Why? To actually finish that novel that was nagging at the back of our heads since forever. To process the year through writing. To revise your manuscript through a total rewrite. FOR FUN.
What do you really get from Nanowrimo, though? Your draft. A downloadable certificate and your draft. And rediscovery or a boost to remind you that you’re a writer worth your salt. In short, Nanowrimo is an inspiration and structure that supports process.
Personally, I have gotten to the stage where Nanowrimo becomes my regular “idea vomit” month where I write, plan, and develop as much fictional material as I could muster and then work on the most polished or developed idea for the rest of the year (and beyond). And I’m forever grateful to what Nanowrimo has given me. Here’s how it has changed my life, with a little snippet of how it has been going so far.
Community and Current Friends
Some of my closest friends? I’ve met them through Nanowrimo. If not directly through Nanowrimo, then through people I met through Nanowrimo. I believe when like-minded people, or individuals with similar values and interests come together as a community or for a common purpose, it builds community and purpose. And not only did Nanowrimo introduce me to some of my greatest friends, it opened doors to the industry for me.
Gateway into Industry
When I first joined the Singapore Chapter of Nanowrimo, the Singapore Writers’ Festival was still run by a Steering Committee headed by Philip Jeyaretnam and prominent regional or local authors were asking the question, “What is speculative fiction?”
Back then, I joined Nanowrimo as a gateway to find an opportunity to bring my manuscript to the next level. While that manuscript did not get to where I wanted it to, the opportunities I jumped at that came with Nanowrimo and the community itself introduced me to short story anthologies, The Arts House, the Singapore Writers’ Festival, independent bookstores, the works.
Heck, my first published story was thanks to a group I joined that formed after that particular year’s Nanowrimo.
While our amazing Municipal Liaisons in Singapore will say that the local chapter of Nanowrimo is really just for fun and highly casual, you cannot deny that the community itself brings opportunities that can lead to others.
Just a note though - no amount of opened doors will get you to where you want to go if you don’t choose a door and walk through in the first place. The opposite is likewise.
Has Nanowrimo changed the way you look at writing or your creative self? Let me know in the comments!
The Value of Quantity
Caveat: This is not railing on quality. Quality of writing and story are still king in publishing and reading.
However, what Nanowrimo has taught me was that there’s value in creating more work - it’s always easier to pare down than to make up for what’s lacking. And it was here, when I met writers and creatives from different backgrounds, where I saw the value of “just creating because you love creating”.
In the international Nanowrimo community, you will meet all kinds of writers - fanfic writers, “serious” writers, casual writers, bloggers, game-writers, film writers, people who just write to process their emotions etc… - and as time passes, you grow to accept and appreciate them. And that’s great because building empathy and understanding are also one of the most fundamental steps to being a great writer.
Regardless, the sheer quantity of writers you meet and stories you will consume will likely have one main thread running through it - these stories and writers are the products of constant practice and producing. And producing. And creating. And producing.
And what makes a master? Stephen McCranie says - the Master has failed more than the Beginner has even tried.
You Can’t Edit a Blank Page
If you’ve heard the adage, “Done is better than perfect”, it makes sense. And that’s the fundamental value upon which Nanowrimo is built. Your page might be bad but it still exists! And because it exists, you can polish, tweak, and improve it.
That’s still better than staring at a blank page and then beating yourself up because you can’t bear to write the first sentence. From someone who has been writing for almost a decade and had a lot of trip-ups because of perfectionism, this rings true for me even now.
Because it’s Fun, That’s Why
And why do you want to do things that are both not fun and don’t benefit you?
So how has Nanowrimo been for me this year? To be honest, hectic. The day job is throwing a whole lot my way until the end of the month, so “unfortunate timing” (a commonly-heard phrase I’ve been getting this year). That said, as I started using my D20 to make Nanowrimo more fun (more info here!), it has been a lot easier to get up.
And that’s one of the ways Nanowrimo reminds me about why I chose writing - the way it can be inspiring when you hit a great vein of plot, meet a great character, and how it really lends itself to fun ways to gain mastery of the craft. And as I’m typing this, I’m anticipating tomorrow’s dice roll - onwards!
And that’s it from me, see you all next week!
Are you doing Nanowrimo this year? What are your tips or tricks? Share them in the comments!