Give NaNoWriMo Another Shot This Year, Even If You've Never "Won" Before

Caleb Thal/Stocksy

I’ve actually lost count of the number of times I’ve "lost" NaNoWriMo For WriMo newbies, that collection of letters stands for National Novel Writing Month, when during month of November, novelist hopefuls commit to writing 1,667 words a day, or 50,000 words over 30 days. I've "lost" at least seven times. One year, the number of words I submitted to NaNoWriMo was somewhere in the ballpark of 53. That’s words, not pages. I couldn’t tell you how I otherwise spent my time that month, but there it is. If there were a record for NaNoWriMo losses, I’d definitely be in the running.

Still, there’s just something I love about National Novel Writing Month. And there are plenty of reasons to attempt NaNoWriMo — even if you’ve lost as epically, and repeatedly, as I have. After racking up so many failed novel writing attempts (or even just one) signing up for NaNoWriMo again might seem like an exercise in futility, sure. But there’s just something about the blank page, the sense of possibility, the monumental commitment of drafting a novel in such a short period of time. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but the sheer thrill of trying to "win" (aka: write 50,000 words) is worth the losing.

So, here are 13 great reasons to give NaNoWriMo a shot this year — whether you’re a seasoned WriMo who has never won before, or a brand-new participant looking for the perfect excuse to totally transform your writing life.

You don't think you’ll win.

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There’s nothing like a little reverse psychology to get your creative juices flowing. If you’re like me, and have an epic NaNoWriMo losing streak, giving it yet another go might seem futile. But consider this: if you’re not expecting to win, you really can’t lose. The pressure is off. And maybe, that pressure-free writing is exactly what you need to, you know, ACTUALLY WIN this year.

You have a case of writer’s block.

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If you’ve never achieved those coveted 50,000 words during the month of November before, you’re probably more than a little familiar with the plight of the creatively blocked writer. But here’s the thing: the only way you’re ever going to cure your writer’s block is by pushing yourself to write. So yeah, even if you only squeak out a few sentences a day this November, you’re still fighting your way towards a less painful, more productive writing life.

It’s time to start something new.

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The entire point of NaNoWriMo, win or lose, is that you’re generating new writing — you can’t use your 50,000 words to edit a draft you’ve already worked on, or include any writing you’ve already written. So whether you’re generating much-needed new material for a project already in the works, or hitting the reset button on your writing life by starting something completely new, NaNoWriMo is the perfect time for it.

You have some really bad writing habits to break.

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These habits mostly involve procrastination — and procrastination can come in many disguises (think: thinking about writing, reading about writing, studying writing, plot-mapping, over-editing, and basically anything else a writer can do that might look like writing but isn’t actually WRITING.) Sound familiar? The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that with an approximate 2000-words-per-day goal, you have zero time to procrastinate or indulge in any of those other bad writing habits you might have.

You know you CAN win… you just haven’t done it yet.

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If you know you have it in you to win NaNoWriMo, then you probably also know exactly why you haven’t won yet. (Ehem, see above.) All you have to do is stop doing all those things that prevent you from putting the words onto the page. Easy peasy.

Accountability, and deadlines, and community — oh my.

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From one writer to another, I can tell you that the writing life can get mighty lonely. After all, we writerly types (at least fiction writers) spend most of our time thinking about, writing about, and sometimes even talking to characters who don’t exist in the real world... and usually by ourselves, because talking to imaginary people in front of people who aren’t writers is typically a no-go. With NaNoWriMo, you’ve got a built-in community of fellow writers (be sure to connect with your region!) who will remind you of deadlines, hold you accountable to them, and commiserate with you when needed.

All the NaNoWriMo special events.

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From local write-ins and public readings to word sprints and The Night of Writing Dangerously Write-a-thon, there are plenty of NaNoWriMo sponsored and supported events planned to make sure you take advantage of the entire month. And, while I don’t have any data to back this up, I’m guessing participating in even one event will put you that much closer to completing your goal.

If you want to be a professional writer, there is no better practice than NaNoWriMo.

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Professional writing is, basically, all about meeting entirely impossible and impractical deadlines — aka: you will always have way too many words due far more quickly than you would like. That’s basically NaNoWriMo in a nutshell. Considering the professional writing life, but need a trial run? Force yourself to win this National Novel Writing Month.

Or, maybe you just want to have some (relatively) pressure-free fun.

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On the flip side, maybe you’re already a professional writer, who wants to reconnect with the more free, fun side of your writing life. In that case, NaNoWriMo can serve as one of those low-pressure, just-for-fun deadlines — which just might happen to be exactly what you need to kick your writing into next gear.

Some writing is better than no writing.

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Let’s say you’re pretty certain winning NaNoWriMo is just not for you. You’ve tried (and tried and tried again) to entirely no avail. You still got SOME writing out of it, right? And some writing is definitely better than no writing. Nobody is really going to care if you don’t meet that word count until December, or finish your novel next May, or in 2035. But in order to do any of that, you have to start somewhere.

You actually WANT to write a book.

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If you really, truly want to write a book (note: this is vastly different than wanting to HAVE WRITTEN a book) then there is really no better time to step into the creative fire than NaNoWriMo. Just don’t let all the things that have kept you from winning before become more important than your desire to finally write that book.

Writers write.

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This one pretty much speaks for itself. If you’re a writer, you write. Even when you don’t really want to. Like, say, during the entire month of November. Tough noogies, you writer you.

You have nothing to lose. (Except, you know, NaNoWriMo.)

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If you’re a repeat NaNoWriMo tried-and-failed, the worst is pretty much behind you. You really, REALLY know what it’s like to lose NaNoWriMo — and you’ve survived! What’s one more year, right? You might as well give it all you’ve got.