Why Should You Take Part in NaNoWriMo?

As I write this, Ireland is shy of a lockdown and people are generally practicing social distancing. The first couple of weeks were stressful, but as this continues, people will eventually replace stress with boredom. That’s where NaNoWriMo comes in, and with April right around the corner, Camp NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity to create something for yourself. In the first of a series on the NaNo experience, we’re going to look at the benefits of taking part in NaNoWriMo, whether there’s a quarantine in place or not!

The Pros of NaNoWriMo

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing challenge. Every November, writers all over the world attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel. With Camp, every April and July, writers can set their own challenges within the same creative space as the regular challenge. Whether you’re partaking in Camp or doing it in November, the benefits are the same.

A dedicated platform for tracking your progress

Sometimes, it’s difficult to keep track of how much you’ve written without posting about it on social media. Even then, you’re open to questions, and prone to distractions. The NaNoWriMo website is the perfect place to regularly update your project’s word count, and to see your progress displayed in a graph. As a motivational tool, there’s nothing quite like it.

Community support when you need it

NaNoWriMo is built on communities working remotely. While the Dublin NaNo region normally tends towards twice-weekly meetups in November, Camp is much more relaxed. We maintain conversations on the NaNoWriMo forum, as well as Facebook and Discord, as a general rule of thumb during NaNo, and we’re but one place local writers can turn to for advice and support. The dedicated NaNo forum is filled with writers from all over the world, offering their two cents on every topic related to writing, neatly organised by category.

Regional communities for those who need to know locals

Every region is different. Some are great at meet-ups, others are great at the online stuff. The Dublin region typically prefers in-person meetings, because even the most introverted Irish person likes a good chinwag and a cuppa with other people every now and then. The regional communities are a great way to make new friends; I met my fellow MLs in the Dublin region during NaNo and we talk every day online – and meet up at every available opportunity.

Goals to help with motivation

Setting a goal is the first step towards doing something. It’s why so many people get lost when working or studying alone – they don’t know what they need to achieve. November NaNo is clear: 50,000 words in 30 days. Camp lets you set your own goals, whether you want to aim higher or lower, write or edit, work on a novel or a comic or a collection of short stories. The site will then track your progress on the project based on the timeline you’re working with.

Somewhere to put your energy or to distract yourself

When I was younger, writing was a great distraction. It gave me something to focus on that wasn’t school. Now, it’s one of my favourite things to do, and leaves me with a sense of accomplishment like nothing else. During the COVID-19 social distancing, writing a novel – or practicing any sort of creativity – is the perfect way to channel some energy. Restlessness isn’t good for the head. Taking part in a community challenge like this is a great way to relieve some of the stress of the current environment, and gives you something to share with friends and family at the end.

What are you waiting for?

If you’re not already signed up for NaNoWriMo, head to their website and register. When you’ve announced your novel, let me know wherever you found this blog post, or in the comments below! I’m rooting for you – from a safe distance.

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