This question was posed by Julie Russell in this post:
What did you love about NaNoWriMo this year?
I crossed the 50,000-word mark on November 21. 50,133 words to be exact. My first NaNoWriMo challenge. It took me four years to build up the courage to jump all-in, and I’d have put it off for another year had it not been for an encourager from Twitter who called me to the mat. Thank you, @Archimage.
I love that NaNoWriMo seemed like an insurmountable task before I started. I love that it seemed even more daunting about 10 days in when I felt like I’d most certainly spewed all the words I could about my selected story. I love how the hunger to write swelled up inside me and pulled me out of bed at 4:30am almost every single day. I love that the days I met with toughest wringing of my brain forced me to dig into deep, emotional places to feel every letter of my words as I typed them. I can honestly say I’d have never found these words or these places I am capable of writing from without this push.
I love that it seemed like all the conditions of life had to be in place first, but realizing there’s not a single drop of truth to that. The only condition that truly had to be in place was my desire to make it happen, and will to ensure it did. I love that life happened along the way. I love that I ended up with a really weird pile of embarrassing, but very honest words.
I Made New Friends
Friends new and existing came from all over the internet to cheer me on. And I got to cheer others on. It really was like my first marathon experience, running along a strenuous course seeing hundreds of strangers smiling and encouraging me forward. I had no idea that such an amazing, supportive community existed behind this challenge, but participation got me watching the #NaNoWriMo hashtag, which introduced me to all the wonderful struggles and progress others were making. Once I’d discover someone, I’d start reading other stuff they’d written, learning about their perspectives and who they are. There are some beautiful people out there writing beautiful things.
A lot of ideas happened while I was writing — a beautiful bonus effect of pushing creative boundaries. I have been doing small monthly challenges for a full year now by breaking things down into tiny, doable pieces. My reason for doing this has been to explore the boundaries of the things I use as excuses and the things that scare me. The challenges are meant to tear down walls, grow and change and try new things. I’ve done everything from writing one sentence a day, to writing for 30-minutes a day, to little fitness things to doing various 30 and 31-day vlog challenges on YouTube. Taking on NaNoWriMo was BIG. If this were running, it would be like running a mile a day for a year then doing a full length marathon and afterward, running *just* a mile each day isn’t enough anymore. I’m working through what this means for me in 2016, I may spend another year figuring that out but either way, I feel changed and a little tired, but I’m hungry to push myself in new ways.
I Took a New Perspective on Fear
For a very long time, I’d put emphasis on things like overcoming fear, pushing through fear and being fearless. The more I thought about it the more I realized I was putting a lot on energy into fighting nature. On Day 04, I wrote a post in my daily NaNo journal titled, “Fear, My Friend, We are Doing This.” I realized that my effort to overcome fear was feeling more like an exhausting wrestling match and I’m not really interested in being a pro wrestler. Fear was consuming good time and energy, and even when I faced the “fight” valiantly, it was still very expensive in terms of energy. So I decided instead, to make friends with my fear and invite it along for the journey. The moment I made that mental shift, Fear was like, “Ok, cool, let me get my shoes.” Fear didn’t block the doorway anymore. I’m not fearless, but I’m much stronger than I thought I was.
That’s a summary of what I learned by participating in my first-ever NaNoWriMo challenge. What an enormous amount to gain in thirty days. If you like to write at all, I recommend participating. Here’s a link to my first post announcing my intent to participate, if you’re interested. Whether you win or don’t quite make it, you WILL grow from the experience. And there’s a whole community of amazing, brave, kind people out there ready to encourage your every step if you allow them to.