Why I Love Nanowrimo, and Why the Haters are Wrong

Nanowrimo (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth) is a time when writers across the world take 30 days to write at least 50,000 words. You have an online community to support you along this journey with many tips and forums on how to make it to the 50,000 word mark. Why this number? It’s approximately the length of The Great Gatsby.

Many people have criticized this method of encouraging would-be writers. I’ve heard all sorts of condemnations.

1- Not everyone is meant to be a writer- isn’t this just creating a lot of garbage writing into the world? There’s enough novels and novelists as it is!

It’s true that not everyone will be a writer. But for some people, like myself, find writing to be therapeutic. So regardless of whether you become a big-time published author, a small-time niche writer or someone whose manuscripts never see the light of day at least you had the chance to put yourself to the test. The worst thing that could happen is that you will learn something about yourself through the reflective process of writing as well as build up your stamina for writing longer pieces.

2- You can’t really write a quality piece in a month. It’s going to look sloppy.

True, but this would just be a first-draft. I’d be hard-pressed to publish something I wrote that quickly although that’s exactly what the 3-Day Novel Contest attempts to do and they seem to be a successful creative community.

3- No one cares about your novel.

That might be true. But then again, maybe someone will.

But let me share with you the #1 reason why I love Nanowrimo. It comes from observing my own novelist father over the years and how he has supported other potential writers. I have come across many people in my life who are naturally creative and full of great ideas. And more often than not, they always say a similar thing.

I’ve got a great idea for a novel or book.

You’ve got a great idea. Well that’s fantastic. I’ve got a great idea too. In fact, I’ve got hundreds of them! But what are you going to do about it? Where are you going to start?

The difference between someone who has the potential to be published and a person who has zero chance are pretty clear. The person who has the potential actually has  written something of substantial length that they can show to a person. The person who has zero to little chance has nothing but enthusiasm and an idea.

So that’s why I love Nanowrimto. At the very least puts you to the test to see if you can actually make that novel come to fruition. If you have words on a page then you have a foundation you can continue to grow and build. You can criticize Nanowrimo all you want, but it has helped many best-selling novels get off the ground. And maybe one of them will be yours- or even mine!

Check out nanowrimo.org for more!

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Hope you’re feeling inspired to write this Fall!

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For the Love of Audiobooks

I love reading audiobooks. Yes, you heard me right. I read audiobooks.

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I first started reading audiobooks when I was a liaison officer back in 2011. I would drive across Ontario for hours visiting high schools from Windsor to Sault Ste. Marie. I genuinely enjoy driving for long stretches, but eventually I felt that I could benefit from something more stimulating than looking at roads and trees.

And that’s when audiobooks changed everything for me. I could hook my iPod into the car speakers and listen away.

I started with easy stuff- mainly autobiographies of comedians. Kathy Griffin, Sarah Silverman, Mindy Kaling and others. The best part was that these comedians would actually narrate their own lives, adding to the whole experience.

Then I worked my way up to some non-fiction starting with Lean In. One thing that shocked me about Lean In was that Sheryl Sandberg does not narrate her own book! I know she’s busy and all, but it really takes you out of it to hear a stranger read her words in the first-person.

Then I worked my way up to pop lit. Here’s where things got a bit complicated. Also, if you have not read The Help– here is a major spoiler alert.

Sometimes while I was driving and had the audiobook hooked up to the car speakers, I would stop listening briefly when I had to switch lanes or turn left or get off the high way. So at one point in The Help when a character bakes stool into a pie, I actually missed that one very important detail! I spent the rest of the time wondering why all the characters kept talking about this scandalous pie unbeknownst to me that it was a scatological sort of confection.

Eventually my job changed and I no longer had to drive for a living and had a regular 9-5 in the office. To keep up my audiobook consumption I began walking to work so that I could have a leisurely way to take in all the content.

I bought a monthly subscription through audible.com to keep up my addiction. Currently I love The Great Courses series by The Teaching Company. They have topics on everything from world mythology to comparative religion. I’m also always on the hunt for books on Jewish Thought since learning about the philosophies of Maimonides by Joel L. Kraemer.

So why do I tell people that I “read” audiobooks?

I say this partially because we don’t have an agreed-upon word yet that captures the process of absorbing an audiobook. But I also use the term “read” because I do not feel that audiobooks are a passive form of entertainment. While we do not use the brain in the exact same way to listen as we do when reading, I can assure you that audiobooks are an engaging form of learning. And while some may subscribe to McLuhan’s theories on “hot and cool media” to refute my statement, I tend not to listen. Mainly because I have my headphones on and I’m drifting away into the world of another great novel or lecture.