[Article written by Kat Armstrong, Municipal Liaison for the Swindon NaNoWriMo Region]
“I started taking part in National Novel Writing Month in 2012 during my first year at University. I was a stressed out undergrad in a degree that I wasn’t sure about (Religious studies Major with Creative Writing Minor) and one of the girls in my Creative Writing class suggested that I give it a go, that maybe it would help me work out if I should, in fact, be writing.
Because my Minor was the only thing about University that I wanted to do. Not the drinking and the parties, just those glorious few hours of writing classes per week.
Had to be worth a shot, right? How hard would 50,000 words be?
The answer is hard. I did not complete my first NaNo, running out of steam and coffee at around 35,000 words, but I can’t ever see that first caffeine fuelled month as a failure. It changed everything.
I dropped my Major and took on Creative Writing full time, as my degree. I didn’t know what I would do with it, but if NaNo had taught me anything it was that I knew I wanted to write, and that I was more capable than I had first thought.
The ‘why’ is a question that now, in my fourth year with three NaNo manuscripts sitting happily in a folder, I get asked over and over by non-participants and new participants alike.
Why do you put yourself through it? Why should I put myself through it? Why do you find it fun?
The answers, as it turns out, are easy.
NaNoWriMo 2014 at the Central Library
Why do I do it?
Well, because I’ve come to love it. I love the thrill of hurtling through a story with no real idea where I’m heading. I love watching characters that I had carefully planned out stare at my plan, shrug, and run away giggling in their own direction.
I love racing against myself for new and more challenging personal bests. My why, is that I adore every moment that my hands are at the keyboard. I will confess that my stress levels rise a little through the month of November, juggling a house and a cat and a job and a very understanding partner.
But some of the work I have created through NaNo has been better than I could have imagined – some of it has been worse that I thought possible but you have to take the good with the bad. It makes me give my writing time, and space, and I get to do it with a wonderful community who all have my back as much as I have theirs, and all want me to reach that elusive 50k.
Why should I put myself through it?
Now here’s a question. Why should you join us for National Novel Writing Month? My immediate answer is because it’s wonderful, but that doesn’t help you decide.
You should do it if you want to, first and foremost. Don’t let the target scare you, you don’t have to reach for 50k, and you certainly don’t have to hit it. If you love writing, or want to love writing, or want to know if you might love writing, then you should do it. Even if it’s just once and you vow never to come back again. (We have some participants who, at the end of each year say never again, and then come back the next year).
You should do it because you will meet some wonderful people who never scoff at ideas and want to lend a hand where they can.
You should do it because it will teach you a lot about how easily you can stay awake for 30 hours on nothing but cheap energy drinks and the thrill of finding out what might happen to your characters next. You should do it for you, and for everything that it might bring you.
So why NaNo? For the joy. For the excitement. For the support.
For the writing.
We hope to see you with us through the month of November in the Swindon Central Library.
Please, even if it’s just through insane curiosity, come and join us. Everyone is welcome.
Dates for your diary at Central Library:
Plan your novel with us: Saturday 22nd October 12 – 3pm and Friday 28th October 12 – 3pm
Launch day and info session: Sunday 30th October, 12pm – 3.30pm
Write your novel with us: Every Saturday in November, 12pm – 3.30pm
Check out last year’s blog post to see why other folk join NaNoWriMo each year.
NaNoWriMo 2014 at Central Library.