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Why I Love NaNoWriMo

· amwriting,NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month. And NaNoWriMo, as it's lovingly called, is not only a month, it's also an international nonprofit organization. The goal: write 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days.

This year, I'm one of the two Municipal Liaisons (which is just a fancy way to say Regional Coordinator) for the Sacramento region. We've got a large, geographically dispersed region extending a hundred miles north and south and to the Nevada border on the east.

While we had our midnight kickoff on November 1 at 12:01 AM (at a woefully understaffed Denny's with whom we had coordinated previously), it was today, November 2, where I gave a presentation at the Folsom Library (yes, Johnny Cash fans, that Folsom). I spoke about the importance of getting into the right mindset for this ambitious task: finding the time to write, shutting off your inner critic, and making the pursuit of your goal a regular habit.

It seemed to resonate with almost everyone in the audience. Fenway Stevenson started as an idea in 2009, but it wasn't until I actually made a commitment to that goal that the first book became a reality eight years later.

Yes, NaNoWriMo is about writing 50,000 words in a month, but the mindset can be applied to everything we do and everything we want to achieve. It requires time, effort, and the willingness to make it a habit. And, like everything we pursue in life, there's an evil part of our brain that is continuously telling us we can't do it. We're not good enough. We're going to fail. We have to silence that inner critic—whether it's getting a degree, learning a new skill, playing an instrument, going after a promotion, learning to cook. We're our own worst critics, and silencing that critical voice so that we're open to learning and open to moving ourselves toward our goal is one of the most important lessons NaNoWriMo taught me.