Should you do NaNoWriMo this year?

With NaNoWriMo right around the corner, search engines and active minds are working tirelessly to help people just like you get prepared. Scrambling to find story ideas, research, and put together a plan of action to help them win the satisfaction of another NaNoWriMo certificate under their belt.

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo since 2007 (yipes) and Camp NaNoWriMo since 2016, and I still get butterflies in my stomach in the weeks leading up to them.

So let’s get ready together! Step one: deciding if you’re in this month or not.

I know, a lot of people seem to think that the first step to getting ready for NaNoWriMo is deciding on a story, but to me that’s secondary. First, I like to decide whether or not I’m even interested in doing it this time around.

NaNoWriMo Prep Step 1: Should You Do NaNoWriMo This Year? blog title overlay

There are plenty of reasons not to do NaNoWriMo this year.

Especially for me. I can list of half a dozen reasons not to do NaNoWriMo just off the top of my head:

  1. I have a two kids – a five-year-old and a two-year-old – who already think the computer is attached to my fingertips.
  2. I have a house that is need of a lot of work (and no, we still haven’t finished unpacking from when we moved in three years ago).
  3. I have a lot of work to do with paying clients who are counting on me to get it all done for them.
  4. I have my full-tie day job as a social media analyst and content director.
  5. I have how many works in progress?
  6. I am already involved in so many writing challenges, I don’t really need the pressure of adding yet another word-count goal to my workload.

There are also plenty of reasons to do NaNoWriMo.

Whether you are a NaNoWriMo veteran or a writing novice, there are several reasons why you should do NaNoWriMo this year:

  1. You want to write a book. Right? If you didn’t, then you wouldn’t even be thinking about NaNoWriMo. For whatever reason, you’ve been putting it off. It doesn’t really matter what your reasons are for putting it off — we’ve all done it. But there isn’t a better time than during NaNoWriMo to find your motivation, sit down, and start pumping out that book. And you don’t need a whole lot to get started.
  2. You want to see what all your friends are talking about. If any of your friends are writers, then you’ve already heard them raving about NaNoWriMo. The planning, the rush of writing, how many words have been added onto their tally at the end of every day. Or maybe you’ve seen the other side of it? Maybe you’ve seen the hair pulling, the rushed research, and the memes of writing-induced comas pass by. Either way, they’ve grabbed your attention, and you’re dying to know just what it is they’re talking about and what makes them go back for more each and every year.
  3. You have a project or you need a project. Last year, I did Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and again in July. Both times I had planned on working my own writing, and both times I ended up working on my clients’ books because I just needed to get them finished. Needless to say, a day doesn’t go by over here in which I don’t have a project screaming at me for attention. But this isn’t the case for a lot of my friends. For many of them, once they’ve finished one book, they go stir crazy looking for something else to work on. Whether you have a project that needs you to finish it, or you’re looking for a new project to start, NaNoWriMo offers the perfect time to give you jumpstart toward that finish line.
  4. You want to help your friend. I know for a fact that you know someone who does NaNoWriMo. Me. And even though writing itself is an individual task, NaNoWriMo is an activity that thrives as a group. That’s why there are so many chat rooms, discussion forums, and groups everywhere you turn. But as far as a NaNoWriMo participant is concerned, you can never have too many friends. If you join up, even if you have no plans on finishing your word count goal, I guarantee your friend will appreciate it and will be excited to help you get started.
  5. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and about your writing habits. I have learned that my best time to write for speed and accuracy’s sake is in the middle of the afternoon, right before the five-year-old gets home from school. But my ideas flow throughout most of the morning, and by the time I sit down, I can’t always remember them. Some luck, huh? I have also learned that I go to sleep faster at night when I’m thinking about my plot and characters. I get grumpy when I am forced to go more than two or three days without writing at least a thousand words, and I love writing sprints. I love research — in fact sometimes the research is even more fun to me than the writing itself.
  6. You want to develop better writing habits. NaNoWriMo teaches you one major thing: get writing. No one is there to judge you on the quality or even on the idea — everything is designed to get you to sit down every day and write. If you have been struggling to find a routine for your writing as new responsibilities fall into your lap, then you know how hard it can be to just do that.
  7. Forces you to commit to one idea and stick with it. I often bounce from one idea to another to another to another. But, for those months when I am working on NaNoWriMo, I sit down to work on just one idea. Any other ideas that pop into my head get written down somewhere (usually EverNote) and saved for later. NaNoWriMo forces me to spend my time and attention on the idea that is screaming loudest at the moment, and it helps me tune out all the quieter ideas for the month.
  8. NaNoWriMo reminds you of who your competition really is. Being an author is a profession unlike any other. Sure, we build our author platform and we learn marketing so we can get sales; and sales can often feel like a competition. But being an author doesn’t actually put you in competition with other authors. When I started on Ripper, I was upset because I thought “great, yet another book about vampires. Just what the world needs, right?” But my friend, E.A. Copen, set me straight. She reminded me: “Yes, there are a lot of vampire novels out there right now, and more being written every day. But we don’t have yours yet.” I don’t have to “beat” other novels. I just need to get mine out there with them.

So, should you do NaNoWriMo this year?

Only you can answer this one.

If the answer is no – you’ve just got too much stuff going on, then that’s okay. Take some time to master some time management techniques or put together a solid work at home schedule. There is always going to be another NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo right around the next corner.

If, on the other hand, you have decided that you’re in, then the next step is to get excited about it.

Start reminding yourself of all the things you’re going to do during NaNoWriMo!

You’re going to write a book!

That’s amazing.

You’re going to hang out with friends, learn a whole lot about yourself, and write. that. book.

I’m in!! Decision made! Haha. This is going to be so much fun!!

Follow along as we prepare together!!

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