I always think, if there’s one month a year that I do not have time to write very much, it would have to be November—the kid is on minimum days and then break for half the month, there’s Thanksgiving, which we are hosting, and of course holiday prep and a general madness that descends in California when we experience anything remotely close to “weather” (read: rain). I’ll be teaching a new class as well. So it makes “perfect sense” (read: none whatsoever) that every year, perhaps with the exception of the one in which my son was born, I choose this month to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo)—writing a whole novel in this packed thirty days.
If you’re doing it this year for the first time, I’m not going to lie to you: yes you are insane. In the BEST way possible, and here’s why:
- Chaos breeds creativity. Look at little kids—do they neatly organize their crayons and construction paper when their muse is on fire? Heck no: it’s a wild vortex of color and shapes that no longer resembles a desk or bedroom when they’re done.
- When you write without editing or judgment, you open up new pathways to story you might normally never take. You bypass perfectionism and self-judgment and get to the good, gooey creative center right away.
- The knowledge of millions of other people writing alongside you creates a special kind of camaraderie and accountability that is like the best runner’s high without ever having to get off your butt.
- Writing by word count is one of the most productive ways of writing I’ve ever encountered. It fools you into thinking it’s just a matter of numbers (once again bypassing the critic and also making you feel like a mathematician).
- In just one slightly manic, insane month you can complete a project you may have spent years or months telling yourself you would one day. High five: I wrote a book! Who cares if I’ve been living in the same clothes and eating Nutella straight from the jar?
- If you run out of holiday gift ideas, just print that sucker up, tie it with ribbons and give it as a gift (call it “experimental” if it’s not quite done).
- Extra bonus: if you don’t love mingling or social affairs you have an instant OUT. “So sorry, but that novel won’t write itself!”