I found NaNoWriMo by accident in 2004. Well in reality it was probably 2003, since it usually takes both time and familiarity for me to take the plunge into something brand new. In any case, 2004 was the first year I participated.
To that point I had started about 2000 stories, and finished nothing. I had bits and pieces of stories that I now recognize had a lot of potential, but I’d get bored within a few pages and rather than continuing I’d start something new.
Every couple of days, I’d start something new, and discard the old.
I kidded myself that I was developing my writing style.
Truly I did a lot of studying during those years, but without applying that new information it just went in one ear and out the other, or in my eyes and straight into the trash pile.
I found NaNoWriMo in 2004, and for the first time I forced myself to write straight through. That first year was a struggle because of the habits I’d formed, but writing is an addiction and I was determined to finish. I hit 50k and stopped. That story still hasn’t been finished.
But the next year I went back. I still believed that writing was (and should be) an individual endeavor, so I didn’t participate beyond writing 2000 words per day and hitting 50k in a month.
And I went back. At some point it became more than a challenge. I began participating in the write-ins, went to the kick-off party for the first time. I wrote 50,000 words, and for the first time I finished a full novel. It wasn’t good, but it was a beginning.
People have varying opinions about NaNoWriMo. Some discard it as a gimmick, a useless attempt at entertainment. They point at the low number of participants who have published a novel and say “Look! It’s useless.” I disagree, for a number of reasons.
Millions of people “try” to write, and fail. A portion of those try again. Some fail. Some succeed.
Although publication is the goal (we all believe that what we write is good enough for publication) only a small percentage of those who write a novel keep going long enough to get that novel published.
From the insane goal of a novel in a month, 178000 novels have been written that would otherwise not have seen the light of day. I know of at least six. I have five more finished that would not have been written if I hadn’t started participating in NaNoWriMo.
For me, NaNoWriMo was the one thing that pushed me into finishing a novel. Others feel differently. That’s their choice. But this year I will finish a 12th novel during November, and hopefully at least three more by November of next year.
And someday I’ll be published.
Maybe this year…