Embracing the Spirit of NaNoWriMo: A Writer’s Reflection - Mo Fanning Author
NaNoWriMo

Embracing the Spirit of NaNoWriMo: A Writer’s Reflection

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As November unfolds, the writing community buzzes with NaNoWriMo’s call to arms—a challenge many embrace with a fervour akin to marathon runners at the starting line. I’m like the guy dressed in a chicken suit, just there for laughs and a foil blanket at the finishing line.

My writing months resonate with the NaNoWriMo ethos, yet the unique contours of my creative process shape them. And whether I can find some other excuse not to write. I’m at gold level when it comes to procrastination.

Why this deviation? The answer lies in a single word—momentum.

The lifeblood of NaNoWriMo writing

Momentum is the lifeblood of writing. It’s about transforming the intangible—a thought, a whisper of a narrative—into something concrete on a page. After all, an untouched canvas can bear no art, a blank page, no story.

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This understanding crystallised for me some 15 years ago. I encountered a writer who had the beginnings of what could only be described as a literary masterpiece. His prose was the kind that you’d recite, feeling each syllable dance on your tongue. But today, that same manuscript remains an unfinished symphony, a testament to the paralysis that perfectionism can induce. He is trapped in a perpetual cycle of edits, polishing each sentence to a shine yet never advancing to the end of his tale. It’s a stark reminder that the quest for perfection in the drafting phase can be a formidable barrier to completion.

Keep moving forward

For many of us, writing is less about attaining immediate perfection and more about the discipline to keep moving forward, resisting the call to revise prematurely. The first draft is not a final product but the act of creation itself. That’s why, although I may not align with the strict regimen of NaNoWriMo, I embody its spirit every month, channelling as much passion into my drafts as possible because a draft, no matter how unrefined, moves us closer to a complete story.

Therefore, let us write with the understanding that there is a season for creation and refinement. Let us not be ensnared by the gravitational pull of the opening chapter, rewriting it into nonexistence. Instead, let’s commit to the journey—sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter—trusting that the right time will come to circle back and polish, but only after our story unfolds in its entirety.

As you sail through the ebbs and flows of this special NaNoWriMo writing month, I invite you to share your own experiences. Have you too felt the tension between the unbridled creation and the meticulous art of refinement? What’s your best reason not to have time today for writing?

Your stories and insights could be the beacon that guides fellow writers home.

Ghosted by Mo Fanning

By Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning is a British author of dark romantic comedies including the Book of the Year nominated bestseller 'The Armchair Bride', 'Rebuilding Alexandra Small' and 2022's hit holiday romcom 'Ghosted'.

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