Friday, November 28, 2014

NaNoWriMo: How to Win

Being one of the last kids picked for kickball in elementary school still looms large in my psyche, so this notion of winning makes me a little uncomfortable.

I know you won’t be able to get the winner’s badge for your social media feeds if you haven’t written 50,000 words, but I believe that there are more ways to win NaNo than by reaching 50,000 words in November. 

If you’ve written this month, you’ve won. You’ve written more words than you might have otherwise, even if you haven’t met the 50,000 goal. You sat down and you wrote, even while life tried to pull you away.  Maybe you wrote a little every day, maybe you sat down for a few marathon sessions.  Doesn’t matter.  You started to build some BIC (butt in chair) practice. 

If you’ve made time for writing in your life, you’ve won. You’ve started a writing habit.  The habit might be a few hundred words every day or 5,000 words every weekend.  Either way, it’s those habits that make successful writers.  I didn’t take that writing habit into the rest of the year until after my third NaNo win, but each NaNo that came before allowed me to practice until it stuck.

If you’ve met other writers, you’ve won.  Maybe you’ve only met them online, but you’ve become aware of other people, not too different from you, who make time for what matters.  My writing tribe sustains me through NaNo and beyond. Many of them I met with just to write, but our relationships have blossomed into the most beautiful friendships of my life.  They write, so it encourages me to write.  After the first year of NaNo write-ins informally organized in Yellow Springs four years ago, one writer friend and I continued to write once a week.  We’ve continued that practice and invited more writers to share it, throughout the last four years. 

You’ve made some time, maybe a little, maybe a lot, for your dreams.  Perhaps that’s the biggest win of all, creating a little space, a little opening for what you really want to do.  You wanted to write a novel, you made time for it, and whether you’ve hit 8,000 words or 80,000, that space you’ve made can be nourished so that there is room in your life every day, all year long, for what you most want. 

Keep dreaming, keep winning, and keep in touch.  I’ll be cheering for you!

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