What I Got From Nanowrimo

I’ve written approximately 1,700 words each day for the last thirty days.  I’ve written beside tennis courts, in Starbucks, on park benches, in sports halls, in the car, and in bed at 6:30 am every day.  The reason –  I’ve been taking part in Nanowrimo – National Novel Writing Month.

Most people who participate in Nanowrimo aim to write novels, but there is a growing minority of “Nano Rebels” who instead use November to write in their own chosen genre, be it short stories, a non-fiction book or even blog posts.  There’s even a dedicated section of the Nanowrimo website for rebels.  For this, my first, Nanowrimo I chose to write blog posts.

The rules are straightforward: write 50,000 words in your chosen genre in November. If you succeed, you get one of these:

And a lot more besides.

Why I Did Nanowrimo

1.      To practise writing

Would-be writers are usually inspired by other people’s great writing.  We’ve read enough to recognise good writing when we see it, and we also know bad writing when we see it.  Unfortunately this means we are only too aware of our own bad writing! This is the point when many quit.

What we need to remember is that most of those good writers we so admire had to do their own time writing badly while they honed their skill.  The more we write, the better we get, and gradually, over time, we begin to close the gap between our own writing and writing we admire.

2.      To find my voice

In the year since I started blogging I’ve often held myself back from writing about particular topics for fear of what other people might think.  This army of imaginary critics – friends, family and (highly imaginary) multitudes of anonymous readers had me in a creative straightjacket at times.

I relished the opportunity Nanowrimo gave me to write completely for my own pleasure, unfettered by any concerns about the army of critics looking over my shoulder.

3.      For the challenge

Because it was there. (And unlike climbing Everest, I could incorporate it into our homeschooling lifestyle.  Just about.)

What I got out of Nanowrimo

1.      The Satisfaction Of Achieving A Goal

Many people have goals but most – me included – rarely take the time to define a goal so clearly that it’s obvious when we have achieved it, or to allow ourselves to bask in the satisfaction we are owed.

Nanowrimo provides a perfect framework for doing that.  It was great doing something just for me.

Did I mention how much I love my winner’s badge? 🙂

2.      A Good Example

This may sound contradictory on the heels of the last paragraph, but  I liked knowing I was modelling some pretty good behaviours for the children:  goal-setting, commitment, and writing both for pleasure and to achieve an end.

3.      The “Squash And A Squeeze” Effect

In the children’s book A Squash And A Squeeze , a woman who complains that her house is too small is advised to take in one more of her animals each day.  Of course she soon finds herself more squashed than ever, and she begins to doubt the wisdom of the advice.  At this point she is told to turn out all the animals, whereupon – lo and behold – her house feels wonderfully spacious and the woman complains no more.  Finding the time to write 1,700 words a day has had a similar effect on my time management!

Writing took up a large proportion of the time we weren’t doing school and I wasn’t doing housework (or organising C’s birthday!). I began to make lists of things I would do when November was over, in the way I did at school when I was revising for exams!

It feels great to be beginning the busy month of December with a wonderful feeling of abundance of  time.

4.      Clarity about why I am blogging

I’ve always known that my primary inspiration for blogging is for me and my family to have a record of our homeschooling days.  But as an avid reader of other people’s blogs I knew I also wanted to offer something to others.  I just wasn’t quite sure who those others were.

Nanowrimo gave me the chance to find out what I’m inspired to write about when I’m doing it only to please myself.  I found that I love to write about our homeschooling and some of the day-to-day issues that accompany this lifestyle.   I also realised that I find it a great help to journal about personal concerns, and I’m going to keep this up outside of the blog.

Nanowrimo  begins again on 1 November 2012.  Why not give it a go?

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