Why NaNoWriMo is Crucial For Me

Finding focus is often a problem for me. As a writer, that is not good. It takes a lot of hours of concentration to create stories worthy of being seen by readers’ precious eyes. When one has undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, as I do, the battle for focus is significantly more than half the war for words.


When I discovered National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWrimo) in 2013, I was skeptical that it would work for me. The goal for that writing challenge is to write a novel (50,000 words) in a single month. Well, that particular month is November, one of the busiest of the year for me. I had already discovered that my mind is very goal oriented, but I hadn’t yet attempted to set such a huge goal for myself in my writing journey. However, I felt like it was a challenge worth taking.

What I realized that month all those years ago is that NaNoWriMo is a wonderful way to get a first draft out of my head and onto paper (or into my computer) in a decent amount of time. By setting small goals for each day, I was able to make it to 50k words each of the first and second years, 70k the third year, and 78k the fourth and fifth. My books can easily hit 100k words, so these totals meant that I didn’t get completely through the first draft of each book during November. But at least I learned each time that I could focus well enough in patches to crank out chapters of stories.

I usually take most of December off, to give my brain a break after the insanity of NaNoWriMo and to enjoy the Christmas holiday. It’s a much-needed reprieve, but even through that time, I write blog articles and jot down any story ideas that come to mind. I never know which of these ideas will become NaNo projects down the road, future novels to share with readers someday.

Though I struggle with focus more in non-NaNo months (there are two Camp NaNos; one in April, and the other in July; those are incredibly helpful for me), but I set goals for myself along the way, and that seems to help some. Finding focus is still a major battle for me. I pray my way through it, and God provides patches of wonderful focus and blissful ideas that turn into something brilliant, thanks to His design and grace in giving me the talent to stitch scenes and lines together.

Right now, I am working hard on a particular story that appears to be a great one to begin my career as a novelist. I pray that a literary agent and publisher agree with me. While I am not at this time pursuing either person, I am working hard to find focus enough to edit the many chapters I already have written, figure out the finale to this emotion-driven story, and, once I have feedback from some key beta readers, continue honing this book until it’s the best it can be prior to sending it for an agent’s and a publisher’s consideration.

This writing thing is a prayer-heavy process for me, because I know I am not determined enough on my own to discover enough focus to bring a story to completion. With God being my Determination, though, the novels on my heart are sure to come to fruition in His time. I pray every day for His guidance and help in this journey. I want my stories to be His stories. They should honor Him with every heartbeat I pour into them.

Focus may always be a struggle, a battle for me. Perhaps that is why NaNoWriMo, coming up next month, is so very crucial for me in my writing process.

What do you struggle the most to conquer or find?
How does a schedule help you in your daily routine?
What emotional-driven novels have you read lately?
October’s reading challenge will Keep the Lights On.

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