You’ve reached the point of NaNoWriMo when the doubts start circling like horseflies: “Why did I think this was a good idea?” “This story is stinkier than that blackened head of cabbage I found at the back of the fridge last week. I’m going to quit and start something new…” “I’m not ready for a project this big. Maybe next year?” But before you call it quits, here are a few reasons why it’s important to finish NaNoWriMo:
You’ll have actual proof of your toughness.
I don’t know about you, but my subconscious can be ornery. Some nights, I’ll wake up from a sound sleep with a sharp, panicky feeling. That leaky sink drain! That email I forgot to send! In the darkness, the feeling snowballs until it feels like a crushing condemnation: I am a failure, not only because of the sink, but because … everything!
(In defense of my subconscious, it also has some really cool ideas, too. Just not on those nights!)
When you’re faced with the heavy pressure of doubt and fear, you’ll have proof that, indeed, you can finish things. In fact you finished a book. A BOOK! How many people can say that?! It’s HUGE–and you did it.
In fact, the manuscript might not be the biggest reward when you finish NaNoWriMo. It might be more important to start December with the knowledge that you–yes, you–are one powerful being. If you can pull this off, what else are you capable of? Answer: there’s no limit.
Read that again: there’s no limit to what you can accomplish. All the stories, all the ideas. No limit <3
You’ll know you can trust yourself.
In the broad course of your life, is it important to finish NaNoWriMo?
In that context, no. So let me reframe it: Is it important to know you can trust yourself? Oh, yes.
There will be times in your life that require you to listen to your intuition to make a decision, curate a relationship, or choose a new direction. In those moments, you’ll need to draw upon your experiences. If you’ve shied away from challenges, let yourself off the hook too many times, walked back New Years’ Resolutions, and flip-flopped on your commitments, you’re going to feel more uncertain than if you’ve built trust with yourself.
Listen, I’ve balked on things more often than not. (The globeless living room light is a testimony. I just threw the globes away, thinking I’d replace the light. Uh, years ago…) This isn’t about driving yourself like a maniacal fiend guru or talking down to yourself. Rather, encourage yourself to do the bare minimum everyday. Just 1,667 words. And if you do more, reward yourself. I mean it. Party, because you’re doing something rare and special. And you’re the engine.
When you know you can trust yourself, a change takes place. People will notice. New haircut? Weightloss? What’s different?
Confidence gives you a new perspective, and it works both ways. Not only will others notice it in you, you’ll also notice new opportunities. Those opportunities might scare you, but guess what? Now you have the tools to take a risk and go for it. You wrote a friggin’ book in thirty days! You can trust your intuition.
You’ll have a manuscript in the bank.
I spent years yearning to publish a book. If you’ve read my story in the Writer’s Write workbook, you know that I had a cyclical writing year: NaNoWriMo, discouragement, New Year’s reboot, discouragement, summer writing conference inspiration, summer writing spurts, discouragement, NaNoWriMo all over again.
Because of this pattern, I have a stack of nearly finished novels. Before, they seemed to me to be a testimony of my failures: look at all these messy rough drafts just languishing on my hard drive! What a waste!
But the truth was, when I finally figured out my publishing path by launching Waiting for Jacob (a NaNoWriMo novel), I understood that all those past NaNoWriMo years weren’t a waste at all! I was storing up treasures. Now, I have a stack of ideas that need a little reworking, a little cleaning up, and application of everything I’ve learned in the in-between years. I have resources. Creative fodder to last me for years. It’s really freeing to know that I have the option of working on a new idea or finishing an old project.
If you want to write for the long haul, do NaNoWriMo now! You won’t regret it.
To Finish NaNoWriMo or not to Finish?
I’m not going to end this article by suggesting that there aren’t good reasons for bowing out of NaNoWriMo. There are, and I have. But if you’re on the fence, if you’re hesitating, if you’re feeling crippled by indecision, my advice is to keep going. I’ve never heard anyone say that they wish they hadn’t developed a skill or that they have too much self-discipline. I think those things will serve you well.
And if this just isn’t your year (understandable, with everything that’s going on right now), know this–you can choose any month to do NaNoWriMo. There are all sorts of resources popping up to help writers finish NaNoWriMo at any time of the year. If the reasons listed above convinced you to give it a go, join a regional writing group and find a few other people to keep you accountable and focused, who will join you on the journey. You can do this, Writer <3
NOW YOU: Do you have other experiences or reasons it’s so important to finish NaNoWriMo? Add them to the list!