Aaaah...November. The leaves change to rich hues of orange, red and gold until they drop off the trees completely, the Pumpkin Spice latte gives way to the Gingerbread one, and the sweaters and boots come out of hiding. It's also the month where, if you're a writer, you feel the nagging push to get your #%&! together and start working on that novel.
The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that you are given permission to write complete and utter crapola. It is a draft, and the objective is quantity, as in words, not quality. That comes later, when you have the bones down and then at a later date you can sift through the detritus and find how to actually turn it into something worth reading. People form online groups, they meet in coffee shops and libraries nationwide, and cheer each other on with daily word count updates. It's a feeling like no other, knowing you are deep in the trenches with your fellow writers, cranking out those words and feeling the love.
For some, they start a whole new project, but for others, it may be just the spark they needed to kick a revision into high gear. This year is the first year I'm actually participating in NaNoWriMo, and I'm working on a revision of my latest novel. It's really kept me on task knowing I have to report in, and I'm really grateful for the focus it has offered me. When I see my peers posting their word counts and hitting goal, it makes me strive to work harder, to focus more, to stop playing Candy Crush Saga and just make it through the end of the next chapter.
I believe the hardest part of the writing journey is getting started. The freedom that NaNoWriMo offers, even if it's purely psychological, that you can write pure drivel and it just doesn't matter, that this is for YOU, teaches us more than we realize. It teaches us to be disciplined, to write daily, to revise later when we know where the story is truly going, to forgive ourselves for writing imperfectly out of the gate, and to celebrate meeting our goals and feeling satisfaction in the smaller achievements instead of just focusing on the long term ones.
It's not like we need a November to roll around as our excuse to do this though. We should allow ourselves this gift every month and to remember how freeing it feels to write with such freedom to make mistakes. In the end, what matters is that we are writing.