Growing up with NaNo

I have been doing NaNo for over 1/3 of my life. Well, that’s a surreal sentence to look at.


I started doing National Novel Writing Month when I was 17 and still doing it now at 29. So I’ve actually grown up doing NaNo. If I’d known about NaNo earlier, I probably would have done it then too.


But this is less about how long I’ve been doing NaNo and more how I’ve grown as a writer doing it. So let’s start at the beginning.


When I started doing National Novel Writing Month in 2006, I was a mess of a writer, for lack of a better term. See, I’ve always wanted to be a writer but by the time I found NaNo, I’d been told I was terrible at it by teachers from 5th grade all the way to my, at the time, current English teacher. So when I stated with the idea of doing this month long madness, I barely had the confidence to write more than a few hundred words. Maybe a thousand, if I’m being generous.


The next year was mildly better. I came out of my shell (sidenote: if you want to know how NaNo worked with my lack of social skills, check out the other blog post I wrote, The Shy NaNoWriMo: A Personal Essay) and gained confidence in my writing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you how much I wrote that year since my memory is garbage and that was before my current account. But it was more than 2006.


2008 and 2009 were pretty similar. I was more active in the region and wrote more each year. In 2008, I ended with just under 27k and in 2009, the final count was 35,002.


And those were the last years I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo. The reason I’m telling you all this is to let you know that while this event may be silly and fun, it can also really help you grow as a writer. It helped me. I’ve written more during November than I have in an entire year (well, before becoming a professional technical writer).


In fact, I can even credit NaNoWriMo with helping me get said technical writing job. The people I’ve met and the skills I’ve learned from participating in this event for over a decade has made me the person I am today, the writer I am today.


While I may not be published yet, I’m getting there. This event can change your life if you let it. Or not. No pressure, you know?


All that being said, I’ve grown in a lot of ways thanks to NaNo: writing ability, sociability, and confidence. And I hope it can help you too!


If you want to speak to me more about this, you can find me in the forums, FB group, or in person at an event. Until then, though?




The Shy NaNoWriMo: A Personal Essay

Hi, I’m kitkatt and I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo since 2006. So that would be 12 years as of 2018.

A lot of people feel like they have to go to events and participate to get the most out of NaNoWriMo. That both is and isn’t true. How do I know? I was super shy when I started NaNo.

So way way back when I was 17 in November 2006, I heard about National Novel Writing Month in late September, early October. Being the totally outgoing person I was at 17, I tried to convince my friends to do it with me to… less than stellar success.

I didn’t want to meet new people on my own. I wanted to meet new people with similar interests while still having the safety blanket of friends around. Like I said, only a few even pretended to humor me.

So sometime in the latter half of October, I went to the Kick Off Party, held by the then ML. I dragged two friends with me and we were quiet and awkward, mostly only waving hi to the other people but talking amongst ourselves. Then we left. And that was all I did for NaNoWriMo 2006. I barely wrote because I was an angsty teenager and had angst to angst. Or something.

2007 wasn’t too much different. I went to a write-in at the Wolfchase Barnes and Nobles and watched the write-in from a distance because I was too scared to actually go, you know, talk to people. The next write-in I could get to, I came over and was identified as the awkward looking girl from Barnes and Noble. I barely talked besides introducing myself but it was easy to find common grounds with other writers.

2008 is when I started getting social and now. Well, if you’ve been to an event in the last 6-8 years, you’ve probably seen me being a hyper, weird mess. But I also understand that it isn’t as easy for some people.

So why am I writing this? Because I know what it’s like to be shy. Meeting new people is awkward and what if you have nothing in common? What if they immediately hate you? Those were the kind of questions I dealt with when trying to get into the social part of NaNoWriMo.

But I have a secret for you: you don’t have to be social for NaNoWriMo. Some people find it helpful, some people don’t. Where some people can write around people or spitball ideas with others, some writers can’t. And that’s 100% fair. Actually, maybe more than 100%.

My point is this: if you do NaNoWriMo, don’t feel like you have to participate in real life events. We want you to but it isn’t required. Being shy doesn’t make you lesser. You’re still one of us and we’re going to cheer you on regardless.

I hope to see you at an event! I’ll be the crazy lady with the flower tattoo.