Some authors consider writer’s block a myth, one that romanticizes the creative process, but Faulkner said he does think that “writers can be shut down by trauma or depression or horrible experiences.”
It can also result from a lack of practice. Anna Borges, who has been participating on and off since high school and now works as an editor and writer, said she had a hard time coming up with a new project this year. “It’s the first time in a while that I’ve worked on something that’s so completely new, which I think is just asking for writer’s block to take over,” she said.
Borges is revising a young adult novel she wrote a few years ago and has another book, “The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care,” out this month, but took up a new project for NaNoWriMo this month. “Part of still doing NaNoWriMo is just constantly trying to tap back into how much joy I got out of writing as a kid before it was my day job,” she said, “coming up with stories just to see what would happen.”
And it helps that the draft is “allowed to suck,” she said.
Clear said the best way to approach NaNoWriMo is to make writing a habit. “The real goal is not to write a book,” he said, “it’s to become a writer.”
Faulkner agreed that the word goal isn’t the most salient part of the experience. (Only about 15 percent of participants end up writing 50,000 words.) Instead, he said, it’s a way of “training people to show up,” making them feel their stories are valid and providing encouragement through community.
“I like to think that we are part of a movement that is making writing and publishing less exclusionary, that is opening it up to diverse voices,” he said.
Guillory said when she was doing the challenge, she was excited to come home every day to get to work. Now she does mini NaNoWriMos on her own throughout the year when she wants to immerse herself.