Guest authors NaNoWriMo Writing advice

NaNoWriMo Challenge: why writers should do it

Guest contributor Cari Bennette discusses NaNoWriMo hurdles and the benefits of planning, community, and continuing the process beyond the month of November.

Cari Bennette of Jet Writers shares tips for overcoming NaNoWriMo hurdles.

Well, here it is November again and once more the National Novel Writing Month has started.

Is this the year you’ll get that novel written? We’re about to give you nine good reasons why you should go through with it.

9 benefits of doing NaNoWriMo:

  1. Get that novel written
  2. Build the habit of writing daily
  3. Develop mental endurance
  4. Gain writing discipline
  5. Enter creative flow
  6. Develop communication skills
  7. Get better at writing deadlines
  8. Stay accountable
  9. Acquire new skills

Get that novel written

First, you’ll get that novel written!

Can you imagine how great that’s going to feel? And while it may not exactly be a polished product when you stop writing at midnight November 30, you’ll actually have a first draft on file.

That’s a fantastic first step to take towards being published, and certainly one that should be celebrated.

Build the habit of writing daily

You’ll develop the keystone habit of writing daily.

If you’re going to make it through NaNoWriMo, all the way to the 50,000-word mark, you’re going to do a lot of writing.

You’ll have to do it pretty much every day: 1,666.6 words a day to be exact. Or, if you want weekends off, 2,330 words five days a week for four weeks.

Developing the habit of writing daily is a building block for productivity, organization and the effective use of time.

As Ali Luke says over at Write to Done,

Your writing ability is a bit like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it’ll become.

Ali Luke, ‘How Much Should you Write Every Day?’

And when you have strong writing muscles to flex, you’ll be able to produce a steady stream of work with greater ease. And producing a consistent flow of work also improves the quality of your writing.

Philip Pullman quote on writing process

Develop mental endurance

You’ll benefit from developing mental toughness as you reach your NaNoWriMo goals.

There’s a tipping point in the process of changing habits or developing new routines when you’ve pushed through the initial resistance and emerged on the other side.

The worst of the struggle is over, and the longer you pursue the new path, the stronger you become.

Gain writing discipline

At that point, you can clearly see the benefits of discipline.

Your focused resolve will weaken the pull of temptation and distractions, which makes room for behaviors designed for success. Discipline generates higher calibration emotions such as appreciation, strength and empowerment and is well worth the effort to cultivate.

And, the mental toughness developed in hitting your daily word count will naturally spill over into other areas. Organizational skills, prioritization, planning and scheduling will all benefit as your performance in these areas will be lifted to meet your new gold standard.

Enter creative flow

But, writing daily isn’t just about productivity. It keeps you in touch with your natural flow of creativity, and you’ll be able to enter the creative flow more often and with less effort.

This, of course, is essential in developing new ideas and maintaining inspiration.

Develop communication skills

Daily writing also develops communication skills, and helps to strengthen conceptual networks.

And, as Judy Willis says over at Edutopia:

The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information.

Judy Willis, ‘The Brain-Based Benefits of Writing for Math and Science Learning’, 2011.

In other words, it keeps us mentally sharp.

Get better at writing deadlines

The NaNoWriMo Challenge also highlights the importance of a deadline.

When you accept a deadline, you also accept the responsibility of meeting it. And, when you meet the deadline of the 30 day Challenge, it not only boosts your overall work ethic, it also builds trust in yourself.

Writing 50,000 words in 30 days will definitely push you out of any comfort zone, with greater confidence and self-esteem being part of the beneficial results.

Stay accountable

A deadline helps to make us accountable and gives planning, scheduling time, and prioritizing work urgency.

That’s Kryptonite to procrastination.

Having a deadline is a first-rate incentive for getting things done.

now novel community

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Join Now Novel’s online writing groups for support the whole year round.

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Acquire new skills

By going through the 50,000 word Challenge, you’ll pick up some new skills and learn shortcuts on how to write quicker.

A most important skill to develop is to write effectively, with efficiency. It’s a streamlining process that comes with repetition and practice, which you’ll have an abundance of by completion.

Planning to meet the deadline is where you cut down self-doubt at the knees. Use it to chunk down the Challenge into manageable units, schedule your time, and develop some character outlines. You’ll always know what to do next, which prevents feelings of overwhelm and overload from even starting.

Further tips for doing NaNoWriMo

Leverage your platform with the status of completing the 50,000 words in 30 days Challenge. As Kathryn Lang says:

Building a writing career takes the action of building a platform where my words can be presented and sold.

Kathryn Lang, ‘Getting More with the NaNoWriMo Challenge’

Take advantage of the many opportunities available to connect and share with writers, agents and publishers available through the NaNoWriMo forum, Twitter and online chats. And it’s a nice badge of honor for your website, so wear it with pride!

Community. The forum is a place to share, seek advice, learn, gather information, get critiqued and support in general. You all share in the common goal of the Challenge, so take advantage of it. Participating in the NaNoWriMo community will also trigger one of the keys to greater happiness, known as social investment. So as you share your common goals and adversities, you’ll feel happier about it. Nice bonus.

One excellent forum event is The 100 Hours O’ Writing twitch streaming marathon where writers stream and raid into new streams every two hours for 100 hours.

And finally, while participation in the NaNoWriMo Challenge is free, donations are accepted and tax deductable.

It Doesn’t Stop November 30

Once the 30 day writing challenge is finished, NaNoWriMo also provides a follow up program in the months of January and February called Now What? This phase is for editing and revisions with participation in online seminars where writers have access to the advice of agents, publishing staff and NaNoWriMo authors. Ongoing interactions are then continued via Twitter.

About the Contributor

Cari Bennette is a ghost writer and content editor at Cari helps others with editing and she is also planning to finish and publish her first novel next year.

One reply on “NaNoWriMo Challenge: why writers should do it”

Thanks for linking to my article on #NaNoWriMo. I hope you are hitting your word count goals, but you are so right that it must go beyond November. We need to be making plans to roll the new word habit over as we continue to write 😉

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