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While I may not be published yet, I’m getting there.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?