My love affair with NaNo began as any light-hearted romantic comedy might: making eye contact in a library.
It was October 2015 and there I was on my lunch hour, curled up in a chair with a small stack of books. That’s when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a pair of Viking horns.
Upon closer inspection, I came to realize this was the logo for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo for those of us in the know. Underneath the crest was the fateful question: “Are you ready for the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days?”
I snapped a photo of it and posted it to my Instagram with the caption, “Challenge accepted.”
For over a year, I had a story concept slowly simmering in my mind like a young ember. Unlike other ideas I’ve had in the past, I decided to finally take the plunge past the development stage. I was going to formally start the rough draft of a freaking, honest-to-goodness novel.
Plus, my vow was on the Internet for all whopping 18 of my followers to see. I had to follow through now.
Most of my family, friends and colleagues were supportive. But certain individuals raised their skeptical eyebrows and questioned how I could possibly write anything good in just 30 days. And up until November 1, I had wondered the same.
But that is when I discovered the true meaning of National Novel Writing Month. It is not about crafting an immaculate, publisher-ready novel. It is simply about the beautiful act of writing words.
National Novel Writing Month taught me to turn off my inner critic and not stop my rhythm by fretting over a character name or using the perfect adjective. When you let go of your insecurities, it’s amazing what can flow from your fingertips.
Your NaNo work doesn’t have to be perfect: it just has to be present.
When the dust had settled from the most crazy and creatively charged 30 days of my writing career, I stared triumphantly at 50,555 words. In my adult life, I have written a master’s thesis, a travel blog, NCAA media guides, fan stories galore and countless articles, newsletters and press releases. But nothing has given me more pride as a writer than watching my little seedling of an idea begin to blossom.
Since then, I have continued to work on this same story for both 2016 Camp NaNoWriMo sessions and plan to do so again this November. I have also made some wonderful friends and connections through this program, which have proven invaluable in inspiring me and improving my craft.
So, when I bring it all back to that fateful October day, my NaNo journey was indeed like a romantic comedy. We had a meet-cute, went through a courting phase, had some doubts…but then, ultimately took the plunge together into a highly satisfying (if not occasionally chaotic) creative relationship.
Now, that’s what I call a happily ever after.