I have participated in NaNoWriMo twice, once in 2009 and once 2010. I won NaNoWriMo in 2009 and quit in 2010 to finish The Writer (my first published novel) in 2011.
This year, I am back in the game.
In 2009, I began writing my novel The Writer for NaNoWriMo and, not only did I win, I finished a manuscript that was awful. The goal of NaNoWriMo is not to produce a masterpiece but to teach you to write every day—to help you with discipline, to learn, to develop, to play, and to have fun. For me, participating is just training. As a writer, you can’t expect every piece you produce to be good or even acceptable—you also need to write bad text and practice and have fun. NaNoWriMo is a great place to accomplish those tasks.
After my first NaNoWriMo, I rewrote the whole novel and destroyed that original manuscript. It was the third version of the manuscript that eventually became the novel I published in 2011. My goal for NaNoWriMo 2010 was to write another story while finishing edits on The Writer. But I was unable to do it; it was too confusing and too messy, so I simply quit and focused all my energy on my novel.
This year, all my writings had been planned to take a pause between November 1st and November 30th so that I not only participate but win this edition.
One of the best things about 2011 came after I published my novel. I discovered a group of great writers called the Indie Book Collective. These people have taught me so much. I have learned a lot and have had the honor to interact with so many cool people. This year I hope we get together in a NaNoWriMo celebration and are also able to support each other during that time. Maybe what I missed out on the most during my precious years doing it.
The IBC people have taught me the values of writing and the values of other writers in social media, blog tours, and more. I have found friends, companions, laughs on their pages, comments, and exchanges, but above all, I have found my image as the writer that I didn’t know existed.
Be ready to laugh.
My image of a writer as a child was a person who sat in front of a typewriter or a computer and drank coffee, smoked cigarettes and produced brilliant work; myself, 1988. Guess what. I quit smoking some years ago. It has been scientifically proved that smoking doesn’t increase your cool or your ability to produce brilliant work. After you type the story, it doesn’t matter if it was on a typewriter or the computer; you need to edit and edit and edit some more. And still after that, you edit once more. Brilliant work only happens after you have practiced a lot, which includes writing a lot of bad and boring stuff.
NaNoWriMo is a great time to do that. As a thriller/mystery writer, during NaNoWriMo, I can try a romantic theme or a futuristic theme. This is an exercise; this is for fun; be free to dream and play.
If you want to know what writing like crazy will be like, sitting down and putting the words down; forget for a moment what the future will bring and consider joining NaNoWriMo. I can’t guarantee that you will finish, but I can guarantee it’s going to be a blast!