It’s Fall! And for most people, that means Pumpkin Spice Lattes, sweaters, Chai Tea and crunching leaves. But for writers, it also means November–or, more specifically, NaNoWriMo–is just around the corner. In November, thousands of writers take a pledge to write 50,000 words on a book. It’s a fantastic exercise that can yield all kinds of benefits. I’ve actually only taken the official challenge once, but every November, I try to set a big goal for my writing. Here’s a few reasons why I think you should, too.
1) A Push to Write (Or Finish) Your Book
This one is a bit obvious, but it’s worth repeating. It’s why NaNoWriMo has taken off the way it has. Because there’s never enough time and there’s often not enough motivation, but in November, writers set that aside, knuckle down, and write. Whether you’re starting something completely new, or needing the last push to finish the draft you’ve been working on all year, NaNoWriMo is a great kick in the pants to get words on the page.
2) An Excuse to Tackle a Difficult Goal
Is there an area of your writing life you avoid like the plague? Maybe it’s social media, or drafting, or finally fixing the world-building problems in your trunk novel. NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to slay the beast. It’s only one month–anyone can work on something for a month–and with all the built-in support from other writers, you won’t be tackling anything alone!
3) A Moment to Prepare for the New Year
Here at DIY MFA, we’re big fans of goal-setting. The New Year is always a great time to take stock of where you are in your writing, and where you want to be in a year. But reflecting only one day a year will probably not yield the best results. NaNoWriMo is a perfect time to look around, see where you were, and where you want to be, so you can start forming realistic, but ambitious goals for this year and beyond.
4) A Chance to Develop a New Habit
Habits are powerful, and can have a positive impact on our writing lives. Thirty days is the perfect amount of time to develop a new one. If you want to set a habit of writing every day, but 50,000 words is just unfeasible, set a goal that is. This will look different for different writers. Maybe you can commit to 1,000 words a day–so, 30,000 total. Or 500, for 15,000 words total. Maybe you want to journal every day, write a piece of flash fiction, or write with the internet turned off for an hour daily. Be creative! Think about the writer you want to be, and see what you can change to make that dream a reality today.
5) A Reminder that You’re Not Alone
Writing is a lonely endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. The internet is always a great place to find writing buddies, but in November, with thousands of writers setting aside time for NaNoWriMo, the place is abuzz. Whether you find buddies for writing sprints on Twitter, or in the forums on NaNoWriMo’s official site, you can count on there being other writers in the same sleep-deprived, caffeine-buzzed state you are!
Bess Cozby writes epic stories in expansive worlds from her tiny apartment in New York City. By day, she’s an Editor at Tor Books, and Web Editor for DIY MFA. Her work is represented by Brooks Sherman of the Bent Agency. Tweet her at @besscozby, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website at www.besscozby.com.