As it’s my second year being the Municipal Liason for National Novel Writing Month Cape Town, I am delighted to offer a short run-down of my evolving NaNo journey and how NaNo has bled into my everyday writing. Hopefully, you might be inspired to make an account or even give it a go this year.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNo, NaNoWriMo) is a free, worldwide event where every November, anyone who can write has the opportunity to set themselves a challenge. To write 50,000 words in thirty days.

As someone who likes challenges (Inktober, Veganuary, Withdraugust…) Nano was maybe the first one to capture my heart. Starting in 2006, I failed miserably, with a word count of only 5,000. But I succeeded at something else: igniting a new passion for writing.

It was only seven years later that I actually reached the word count goal of 50,000. Now, I have ‘won’ three times and decided to give back to this event by becoming a municipal liaison for my region. So what has nano taught me and why do I keep going back?

  • Perseverance – If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again. A healthy word count did not come naturally to me and probably isn’t a skill we are inherently born with. Now, I know that I can smash out 50,000 words in a month – which is useful for those pesky first draft manuscripts!
  • Touch typing – As a journalist, it is helpful to be able to make eye-contact whilst taking a note here and there. During presentations, I can now look at a powerpoint and jot down notes. It may not be that impressive, but I feel like a superhero when my fingers are tapping away.
  • Community – Nano hasn’t just been a gateway to the land of Arial and Times New Roman but is a forum for ideas, coffee, and wonderful people. Especially when traveling, it’s a wonderful way to immerse oneself into a new space.
  • Confidence in my Writing – Coming from a science background, fiction-writing required strengthening an unused set of writing muscles.

There are many reasons to take on the challenge of novel writing this November. The final 50,000-word draft might not be beautiful, might not be nuanced or literary, but it is written. Nano novels require a lot of editing generally before they are in a publishable state, but it is the first step between an idea and a physical book.

If you are thinking of doing National Novel Writing Month Cape Town this year, then head on over to the website and have a look around.