What NaNoWriMo Says About Writers

Image from Flickr by gothick_matt

Image from Flickr by gothick_matt

On Saturday I forgot to take my phone to work. With this realization came a flash of near-panic—it was too late to go back, and I couldn’t fathom an entire nine hours without checking my email or accessing social media accounts.

I knew without a doubt that my husband would bring the phone; we live seven miles from my job. But I also knew that flash of near-panic was kind of pathetic–*gasp* nine hours without email!–so I challenged myself to go a day without the Internet. When I called Alex from the company phone to let him know not to bother texting me, he offered to bring my phone.

“No, I don’t need it,” I said bravely. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Just check it here and there, let me know if I miss a call.”


I got by fine, and I had remembered to bring my Kindle, so there was something to read on break. When it was time to text Alex at lunch and see how his day was going, I instead dialed his number and asked if I’d missed any calls. He said, “No, but there’s some people…Tweeting? About Nay-no…something? I don’t know, some guy named Jason is Twittering, or whatever.”

I giggled. “It’s NA-NO. For NaNoWriMo. Twitter’s just letting me know a bunch of people are talking about NaNoWriMo.”

“Oh. What IS it?”

I proceeded to explain the concept of National Novel Writing Month. A month when hundreds of thousands of writers join in a quest to write a novel in thirty days, and thousands more cheer from the sidelines. Everyone supports each other; it’s not a competition but a common goal, and there are no failures because any progress toward a first draft is a reason to celebrate.

I told him about the write-ins, the sprints, the forums, the pep talks—all the ways writers motivate themselves and other participants to reach the finish line. And in doing so, I realized two things:

  1. It’s nice to have one quality phone conversation with your spouse instead of texting back and forth throughout the work day.
  2. When describing NaNoWriMo to a non-writer, it really hits you how supportive and tight-knit the writing community is. It’s incredible, you know? And pretty wonderful.

How’s your NaNo project coming along?


  1. My NaNoWriMo project has stalled, but it’s the weekend, so I have hope! A day without your phone can really feel weird, can’t it?

    • It felt totally weird, and then kind of nice. 🙂 Heidi, I have faith you’ll finish your project. There’s still a week left! You proved last year that you have it in you, and you’re a real inspiration to me. So get going!