I sold my first book in Sept 2002 (it was published Oct 2003). I hadn’t even heard of NaNoWriMo at that point, but I did hear about it the next year and, and the year after and the year after that, so on and so on. I never felt compelled to participate. I was already writing multiple books a year for multiple publishers (and quite honestly draining my creative well until only murky sludge sat at the bottom if I but realized it). But in 2017, I was coming off of three of the worst years of my life health wise (both mental and physical). I hadn’t finished a book in more than two years and I wanted to write. I knew I needed something and the write-ins hosted by NaNoWriMo seemed like it.
Back then, my agoraphobia was also at its height and yet, I needed to connection to other writers badly enough, I went to write-ins as often as I could fit them in my schedule. If that meant suffering through a panic attack and driving forty-five minutes to a small coffee shop that boasted an antiquated bathroom and lovely owners, or ten minutes to my local library, I went. And it worked. I finished the book that had been languishing for all that time (which became Hot Alaska Nights) and wrote Codas for all of my Greek Tycoon Harlequin Presents as a gift to my patient readers. It was wonderful.
Not the end of my struggle to write, but finding community again made it possible for me to continue pressing forward when I had been at a standstill.
Which is why NaNoWriMo is so important to me and it is vital that other authors understand NaNoWriMo’s primary focus is empowering storytellers to write. If that means going with the suggested word count goal of 50,000, and writing every day without edits, awesome! But if you are like me, if your process would actually be damaged by doing those things, then don’t!
There is a reason you can now set your own word count goals. And NO ONE gets to tell you that whatever your goal is isn’t high enough. Take that in, because it’s the truth. Set a goal that works for you. One that stretches you (a little, not too much, especially during these stressful times), but won’t overwhelm you. And if you realize the goal you set was too high? Rather than quitting, change the goal. You have the power. This is your dream, not someone else’s.
If you’re looking for community, attend some virtual write-ins. If you’re looking for accountability, post your goal in the forums. I’m on Twitter, FB & Insta. Reach out to me and I will encourage you.
I don’t write every day, but I do write weekend sometimes. I don’t set daily wordcount goals, but rather weekly ones as I can write many, many words one day and none for the two following. I edit as I go. If I didn’t, the unedited manuscript would be too daunting for me to tackle at the end. That is me. I am not saying it should be you.
I am saying that it’s up to you to tailor NaNoWriMo to your writing process and goals. No guilt. No feeling like you should be willing to write like everybody else. Writers are individuals. We are artists. We are creatives. There is no everybody else.
Let’s support and encourage one another. Let’s write the stories that we are meant to write.
We are in this together! Let’s do this!
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