Why NaNoWriMo is Important to Me

October 2, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Geek Events, Journal, Writing by Kristina Horner

nanowrimo

This will be my eighth year participating in NaNoWriMo. I sort of can’t believe it. I remember so vividly how I found out about it and honestly, it feels like no time has passed… but in fact, seven novels worth of time have passed since that day (and here I am mentally preparing for number eight).

I was at home in my bedroom at my parent’s house. This is really embarrassing to admit, but I had this “friend” on AIM that I had never spoken with, but kept her on my buddy list because I thought her away messages and buddy profile were funny. I don’t even entirely remember, but I think she was a fanfiction author I had admired but never worked up the courage to say hello to. It was 2005; I was 17 years old, give me a break. Around the time of November, her away messages starting referencing this project she was working on, something called NaNoWriMo. After a few days my curiosity got the best of me and I finally clicked the link.

What I found on the other end quite literally changed my life.

I wrote a lot of fanfiction in middle school and high school. I had always loved writing, and fanfiction seemed like the only way to get other people interested in reading your words. People love hearing about what new capers Harry, Ron and Hermione got themselves into – so I wrote my crappy fanfiction – and people read it. It was a beautiful thing. But as I got older, I didn’t just want to use other people’s characters. I tried my foray into fictionpress.com (fanfiction.net’s sister site for original works) and people just didn’t care. It was disheartening. It made me want to stop writing.

But then I found NaNoWriMo. A site dedicated to encouraging writers to do what they were meant to do: WRITE. Constantly. For a whole month.

I will preface this by saying that even after seven novel attempts, I still haven’t shared much of my work with any other living, breathing humans – but that wasn’t the point of NaNoWriMo for me. While I craved the comments and feedback on my fanfiction, NaNoWriMo made writing a whole new animal for me… rather than a solitary task I did alone in my bedroom against the protest of my mom who wanted me to come out and actually interact with people sometimes. Suddenly NaNoWriMo gave me not only a supportive community of other writers to talk with and gain encouragement from, but it managed to somehow turn my favorite lonely solo activity into a sport. One where people root for each other!

It’s been such a positive force in my life, even when it means I am ignoring plans with friends, falling behind in TV shows, or working myself into a stupor. It’s the kind of exhaustion you earn after a job well done, and I look forward to it year after year. I learned that writing is much less about those immediate comments you receive on fanfiction.net, but about cultivating the skills required to take on such a gargantuan task on your own. About learning discipline, and powering through something even when it seems impossible, and how good it feels when inspiration truly hits.

I recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone who has ever had even the smalled nugget of an idea for a story in their brains. If you want to follow my progress in the coming months, here’s my profile. And if you’re at all interested in helping out the nonprofit behind this wonderful event, I’m raising money for their annual gala on my personal fundraising page here.


14 Comments

14 Comments

Anthony Michalak says:

You are the reason I started NaNoWriMo in the first place. Sadly, I never really got that far. The first year I only got in about 2,000 words. Ever since then, I don’t think I’ve even actually participated. This year, I plan to change that. I have started writing up plots and character ideas and everything ahead of time so when November gets here, I will hopefully be able to actually sit down and write a novel.

Marc says:

Kristina, it is always interesting to hear how others were introduced to the amazing project that is Nanowrimo. In all honesty it was stumbling on your YouTube channel, in a circuitous way, that led me to Nanowrimo back in 2010. Ever since that first year, I look forward to those 30 days of unbridled madness.

Stephanie says:

I participated in my first NaNoWriMo last year because of you and all the videos you made about it, and I’m so excited for this year’s (even if I haven’t really planned much erm oops). I really want to thank you, though, because it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. πŸ™‚

Patrick says:

I *think* I *might* attempt this. Nice to have a month to make up my mind.

Greg says:

Have you seen Nika Harper’s Wordplay vlogs on Geek and Sundry? She’s built a community of writers on the forums. http://geekandsundry.com/forums/categories/nika-harper

Maggie o says:

Your song was the reason I started doing NaNoWriMo. And as I attempt to make it to 50,000 words, I listen to that song over and over for inspiration. The accuracy hurts and pushes me forward.

thelumosrose says:

I first heard about Nanowrimo from you as well. However, I’ve been sticking to Camp Nanowrimo, because I really don’t have the time in November

I AM SO EXCITED FOR NANOWRIMO I CAN’T EVEN HANDLE IT! This is my 6th NaNo (I think…) and I’ve won each year. I actually discovered your videos because a friend of mine was all “You need to listen to the NaNoWriMo song… and she makes a ton of other videos too so you should listen to her.” But… I can’t decide what I want to do. Which is probably stressing me out way more than it should be. I just like using October as my prep month and just… UGH!

I am right there with you. I have a tiny idea but I am having trouble developing it beyond that and it’s so STRESSFUL!

Emmy says:

I’ve narrowed it down a little – but knowing myself I might change my mind within the next 12 hours. I’m hoping once I get off work tomorrow I can have a long brainstorming session.

Ingvild says:

NaNoWriMo is such a big part of my life! I did it first in November 2010, and I have done it twice a year since (regular and one month of Camp), so while this is only the third year, it’s in a way the seventh attempt. My biggest achievement in life is still writing 50K in ten days in July this year, haa. Apart from that I’ve only won twice (Nov -10 and Nov -12), but I intend to keep winning now.

Cassidy says:

Trying Nano this year! I found a writting buddy in the comments of one of your videos, and we’ve been bouncing ideas backs and forth. Thank you! <3

That’s so awesome! πŸ˜€

Stephanie says:

It’s awesome knowing your history with it! I love you song about it and it’s been a big inspiration to me. πŸ™‚

This is my fifth year doing NaNoWriMo and I’m hoping to win as I’d really like to succeed at this more then I’ve failed (only 2 wins so far)… But gah, it’s going to be so stressful with all the college work I have to do and how little of an idea I have…

Regardless, I’m ready to throw myself into this full force. xD

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