A frequent feature of the message boards at the NaNoWriMo website is all the “pep talks”: brief essays on writing, sometimes by major authors which are then sent out to the entire NaNo community, and sometimes by regular participants which are then beamed to the local area forums. One great example of the latter ran yesterday, by a fine woman who goes by the Twitter handle So_I_SAW. I asked her permission to run it here, and she graciously conceded, so here it is:
The world doesn’t need my novel. Let me say that again: the world doesn’t need my novel. I have no delusions of grandeur. I won’t be writing the next Harry Potter (or insert whatever book/series in your genre that fits). I don’t think I’ll be writing a game-changing novel.
So why do NaNoWriMo at all? Good question, particularly since I’ve yet to “win”, heck I have yet to finish any of the writing ideas I’ve started.
It’s simple really. I need my novel. I need the outlet. I need the story. I need the characters I live with to come out onto the page so I can re-read about them whenever I want. I need the story that I wish someone else would write. I am my primary audience. I need this.
Doing NaNo gives me a chance to refocus. There are so many authors, self or traditional published, who dismiss the event all together. If we really wanted to write we’d do it all the time. We’re not trying hard enough to make time. No novel is ever truly complete in a month. (To that last one I say, no duh. This month is about writing, not fixing and editing.) But to the other comments? I think the statements are unfair. Life gets in the way sometimes. We move, we have jobs and bills, and families. We experience creative drain. Illness. Stress. Or sometimes we just can’t write. Personally I had a few life events that took significant time and energy away from every other aspect of my life. My marriage was falling apart, I was unemployed and struggling with severe depression and a loss of a family member. It was too much all at once. I couldn’t make myself write, read, heck, I could hardly form sentences some days. The truth is, sometimes we just can’t write and hearing we aren’t trying hard enough is unhelpful. Take the break and come back later. And if you’re like me, re-read your old writings for a good laugh.
Doing NaNo allows me to try. Even better, I can do it knowing that there’s a whole world of people also trying. It’s less lonely. There’s a nice satisfaction to adding to my word count and our region’s word count. I can refocus my ideas, have a place to update my stats, complain, and get inspired with other people doing the same thing. I get a touch of healthy, encouraging pressure by participating. I’m reminded that I need this. I can practice leaving all the things that have previously held me from writing.
The world doesn’t need my novel.
But I do.
Every thing in the history of the world that’s been worth doing has had to start somewhere, and that the world doesn’t always make a huge deal of things doesn’t mean they’re not worth doing. So go ahead and start!