How NaNoWriMo Helps My Mental Health

Not For Me, or Is It?

Picture of notebook and pens

Copyright Liz BlackX
My NaNo 2019 gear, or what’s left of it πŸ˜‹

Before my first NaNoWriMo, I had heard about it. I never really looked into how it worked. I thought it was a weird competition I didn’t want to enter. In 2018 some planned writing assignments fell away when I again came across this phenomenon. After looking into the details, I figured this could be something for me after all. I joined, and it was the beginning of an extraordinary journey which turned out to be beneficial for my mental health in many ways.

What Is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a competition, yes. It also included prices and a winner. But instead of one winner, everyone can win. Your goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November, preferably in one text so that at the end of the month you’ll have written a novel.
Other people write non-fiction or a collection of short stories. People wonder if they can write fanfiction too. Of course you can! You don’t have to share the tale you’ve written.
It’d be nice if you edit and publish the story somewhere, but if you want to keep it locked in a drawer, that’s fine too. NaNo is, first and foremost, a challenge with yourself. Do I have it in me to sit down and write 1667 words every day?
The prices consist of mainly free trial periods of software for writing and publishing. Many companies also offer you a trial version of their software for you to use during the month of November.

Doing It Together

So in 2018, I outlined a story, a rockstar reverse harem romance, and I began writing.
Now, the fun of NaNo is not only sitting down to write. A big part is also knowing there are millions of people worldwide taking on the same challenge.
Through the NaNoWriMo website, I found a local write-in in a city nearby. On average once a week, we met with a small group of people in Ikea’s restaurant to hang out and write together.
Overall, it’s difficult for me to connect with people, mainly vanilla people, but I did like this group of people.
I enjoyed going out and chatting and having fun with these people, next to writing together.
I also joined the online community and connected with people through Twitter in the NaNo community.

Winning

When I reached my writing goal of 50,000 words in 2018, I cried. It had been a long and hard journey. It made me realise I was capable of writing 50,000 words in one story. The story itself was pretty bad, as I had lost track of the main story somewhere, but that didn’t matter. It was a significant boost to my confidence.
So much so, that I started this blog only a few months later. I had won NaNoWriMo, surely I had it in me to start a blog and keep it up with one or two posts every week. And I did.

SAD

Without the major boost in confidence upon winning NaNo, I use it too for its distraction.
I suffer from SAD. Having to write every day and focusing on the story leaves me little time to worry and be depressed. Especially since any writing will lift my spirits and make me feel better. Spending time with friends also has tremendous effects. So yes, after winning NaNo in 2018 and 2019, this year too I will join.

NaNoWriMo 2020

NaNoWriMo in a Covid-19 riddled world will be different. There won’t be any physical write-ins. Right now all restaurants are closed in my country, so we couldn’t even if we wanted to.
Nevertheless, I will join. I hope there’ll be some Discord servers I can join and have some interaction that way. And the upside is since I’ll do all my writing at home, it can be as raunchy as I want. No one will be looking over my shoulder. And even if the end result is kind of messy, it’s the journey that counts, and with NaNo that’s bound to be special!


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6 Comments

  1. I have done NaNo twice, if I remember correctly, but have lost my momentum to take part in it. Too many other projects going on, I guess, but I still admire everyone who attempts it, and admire them even more when they win it! Go you!
    ~ Marie

    1. It took me a while to find out how it works exactly. I’d always seen it as this weirdly named competition and never thought it could work for me. I was surprised that it did and even was beneficial πŸ˜…

      Lizblackx

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