The Year-Round Professional

As I set out to write this post, I have been awake for about thirty-six hours straight. The reason? I’m in Toronto, enjoying the first day of World Fantasy Convention, where hundreds of other writers like me, each at various stages in their careers, have converged along with some of the very brightest luminaries in genre fiction. Why do they come together? Because success attracts success. Events like WFC allow writers the opportunity to rub elbows with people whose careers are worth emulating. The old saying is true: If you want to be a success, hang around with other successful people; their success might rub off on you.

This seems a fitting note on which to begin our blog’s November coverage of one of the most prevalent writing institutions of the past ten years: National Novel Writing Month, usually shortened to NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo gives us the opportunity to emulate some of the best habits of successful authors all over the world. For this one month, we reprioritize our lives to extreme degrees, all in the name of meeting a daunting (but achievable) challenge-to write a novel in a month.

As I said, this is a daunting challenge, and yet writers of all ages, of all genres, and of all nationalities manage it every year. They do it through discipline, focus, and sheer determination. Over the course of the coming days and weeks, the Fictorians are going to serve up a regular dose of content designed to encourage you and keep your productive during the darkest days of November. The success stories and productivity tips we’ve accumulated may be just what the doctor ordered at this unusually active time in so many writers’ lives.

Aye, and there’s the rub. The determination we demonstrate during the month of November should be parlayed into December, January, and the long months beyond. Why is it that we make such stunning resolutions in November, but give in to our slovenly, procrastinatory impulses the rest of the year? I believe every writer should take on the NaNoWriMo challenge at least once, if for no other reason than to get a foretaste of what being a professional, deadline-oriented author is really all about. This year, let’s take a cue from the pros and emulate their zeal all year long. Let’s learn to be prolific.

The writing that results from NaNoWriMo isn’t always perfect, but it’s highly rewarding because it allows you the opportunity to demonstrate what you’re really capable of. When I last took on the challenge, I produced the second half of the manuscript which later became my first published novel.

By emulating success, we actually make ourselves successful. At some point, you’ll realize that you’re not just copying the pros; you’re becoming one of them.


4 responses on “The Year-Round Professional

  1. RD Meyer

    I’ll be honest – I hate NaNoWriMo, and I hate it for precisely the reasons you’ve outlines here. I think real writers write all year long, not just in November. Too many take up the challenge, let out a long sigh of relief on December 1st, and then talk about it as if they accomplished something lasting.

    Those who want to write should do so, and they shouldn’t need a special month to do it in.

  2. Colette

    I’m participating in nanowrimo for the first time this year. In previous years it always hit when I was in the midst of editing, outlining, or the very tail end of a book. This year I was halfway through my work in progress, November and December are my toughest months to be as prolific as I am throughout the rest of the year, and I figured nanowrimo could work in my favor. So far, it’s been great. Because I have a daily goal, I can tell all of the people trying to pull in in ten different directions, “Hey, I’m doing nanowrimo this year. I HAVE to get in my words today, so I can’t__(fill in the blank).”
    I’m also having fun comparing my word count with friends, not in a bad way, but to see if what I’m able to put out in a day roughly compares.
    I’m having fun.

  3. Alex

    I think I should try to join this NaNoWriMo. I have heard and read of this many times, I think I should give this a try. Thanks for the info…

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