This Is What You Find Out When You Try to Write a Marathon (Or, Happy Nanowrimo!)

Okay: I DID consider choosing a November theme that didn't involve Nanowrimo... But honestly, that made as much sense as American Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. Sacrilege! I just couldn't bring myself to do it!

So, this month, we'll be chatting about Nanowrimo, or--for those of you not participating this year--the experience of drafting at a marathon pace. 

And BECAUSE it's a marathon pace, I'm gonna keep my posts nice and short this month, so you can get on with those impressive word counts! Ready, set, go!

It's messy. It's strange. It's totally worth it. Happy Nanowrimo, everyone! |

For those of you doing Nanowrimo for the first time this year: WAHOO! I am so excited for you. You've just begun an incredible experience, and I'm pretty dang sure it will change your writing life forever.

Here are three things I've learned--and relearned--each time I took on the Nanowrimo challenge.

1. It is gonna hurt.

Let me say right now: I'm a huge fan of Nanowrimo. I've participated (and won!! eek!) four times, and I've never regretted the experience. 

Oh wait, what am I talking about. I have TOTALLY regretted the experience.

I've regretted it right there in the midst of writing--or not writing--when my brain would cramp up, and all my characters said only stupid things, and then I'd realize how much crappy TV I haven't watched and how I should probably get moving on that.

I have had moments of hating Nanowrimo with the same passion that I hate re-starting an exercise routine, or chopping a pile of vegetables for a healthy dinner, or forcing myself to have an awkward conversation with someone even though I'm an introvert, thanks, and would rather, you know, live under a rock. 

In other words: Nanowrimo is hard ... just like other wonderful and empowering and healthy and transformative experiences are hard.

Frankly, I think it helps to know this in advance: You might have moments when you don't absolutely love it.

So when it gets rough, give a shout out to your Nanowrimo community, your writing pals, or the Nanowrimo Twitter account

Or hey!! This is a writing blog and I love you, so you can groan to me in the comments, or send me a shout on Twitter as well. I will cheer for you!

And together, we'll remember why you're doing this insane and wonderful thing. (BECAUSE YOUR STORY IS AWESOME. Ahem. But yeah, that's why.)

 2. It will surprise you.

When you are writing that many words, that quickly, with that much focus... AMAZING THINGS begin to happen in your work. And also in you.

I am so not kidding.

You'll start to live more inside your story than out of it. You'll start misplacing things in your house. You'll have your head kinda tipped to one side, listening for character voices. 

It might get a little weird. 

But it also might feel like your story is alive. Living and breathing right there under your fingertips. And exerting this magnetic pull on you, on your brain, on your time. 

You'll start canceling any appointments you haven't already canceled. You might start wondering if Thanksgiving is optional.

Characters take matters into their own hands. Plot twists leap to mind, a dozen times better than the ones you thought you loved in your outline.

Settings acquire a richer history. They begin to haunt your dreams.

All that writing momentum just might sweep you up, take you over. Now and then, you'll experience that elusive sensation: that the book is writing itself.

It's a delicious thing. Don't fight it. Just sink in.

3. It will be totally worth it. 

There will be moments of pain and frustration. There will also be moments when you think you are losing your mind, or at least, that you are much, much weirder than you ever guessed.

But here's what I know: Doing this crazy challenge will teach you super valuable things about yourself as a writer, about the craft of storytelling, and about your manuscript. 

Trust me on this. You will learn things by doing Nanowrimo that you can't learn any other way.

Not by reading. Not by someone like me telling you stuff. And not by overthinking and perfectionisming (I made that word up, but you know what I mean) and fiddling with a manuscript for far. too. long. 

You'll get smarter. Wiser. More story-savvy.

You'll understand better what bores you in a story. And what makes your blood pump a little faster.

(Even if you don't finish! Even if you don't "win"! But pretend I didn't say that. Because you're totally going to win. High five.)

I'm crazy-excited for all you lionhearted Wrimos out there. If you're doing Nanowrimo, please do give a shout, either here in the comments or on Twitter! I want to cheer you all on!! 

Now... back to those word counts!