How NaNoWriMo Helped Me Come Out of My Shell

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Come September and most people who can write start talking about NaNoWriMo. There are prep sessions, writers’ interactions, writing sprints, outlining and plotting sessions, and so many activities in the prelude to the big event in November. To the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a nonprofit global online community where thousands of people from all over the world come together and write. The writing clock begins on November 1 each year and ends on November 30. Those who can write 50,000 words within this timeframe are adjudged winners and they get a spunky certificate from the NaNoWriMo organization.

I did not know about NaNoWriMo until last year. I began hearing of it since about April 2014, which is when I was intrigued. Now, the thing about me is that though I have always been writing since Grade 7, I have always been too busy with other things to commit myself to write a full-fledged novel. Over the years, several plots formed in my mind and fizzled out for lack of commitment.

When I became a part of several Facebook writing groups last year, the buzz about NaNoWriMo was too strong to be ignored. I became a part of the local (Indian) NaNo community as well as the larger global one. And people in both places vouched for the way it had influenced them.

So, I jumped head on. I used the months prior to NaNoWriMo for plotting out my novel. And when the calendar turned to November 1, 2014, I began writing. I hit the ground running because I already had a plan in mind, writing over 3000 words of my well-formed novel (in my mind) on the first day itself.

Then began the interactions. Though I did not participate actively in NaNo camps last year, I did communicate with people in my close-knit group. It was interesting to check out how everyone’s manuscript was shaping up. Some of them were real pros, one with even nine wins under her belt, and it was a highly inspiring environment to write in.

To cut a long story short, the daily determined approach enabled me to finish 50000 words on November 22 itself. I put it up proudly on my NaNo dashboard and won the certificate!

NaNoWriMo-2014-Winner-Certificate

But it did not end there, of course. Though the word count target was achieved, the novel was far from over. I continued writing, and it seemed easier now because I had gotten into a groove. I knew how to commit myself to a daily deadline. I wrote for a couple of weeks more and brought my book to the finishing point. The final outcome was close to 82000 words.10x12 (1)

As many of you might know it, this book is Maya’s New Husband. I edited it for close to a month, and finally released it as a self-published book on Amazon. The book hit the Hot New Releases rank #1 on the first day itself, and went on to hit #1 on Amazon India (horror) several times over the next few months. Today, almost ten months after its release, it still stays within the top 20, and occasionally hits #1, and is on its way to be translated into a larger format, i.e. a movie.

If it hadn’t been for NaNo, Maya’s New Husband would have been just another plot that occurred to me and vanished without a trace. It was this global sparring (a healthy one, of course) that helped me bring it to fruition. There is no doubt that I owe it entirely to NaNoWriMo for being a partner in my writing career, almost a mentor, and helping me touch the finish line.

Since this first NaNoWriMo win, I have published two more books, which are short story collections. My next full-fledged novel will be The Birth of the Death, which is the sequel to Maya’s New Husband. I am taking up the NaNo challenge again this year, and will finish the sequel to my last year’s winner.

With NaNoWriMo by my side, I am confident of scoring a win again!

Join me in my challenge at NaNoWriMo.org. Look me up if you wish to; my handle is neildsilva.

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