Creativity is a funny thing and it’s definitely something you can (and should!) practice and nurture. When I began at LudoCraft eight years ago, I found something that immediately struck my creative streak: NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Or just NaNo which can affectionately mean the whole month or the novels created during that month. Each November an eager group of LudoCraftians take part in a global phenomenon. They begin their journey through the sweat, tears and insomnia (no blood!) of writing 50 000 words of fiction.
Our very own game programmer, Lasse Öörni, introduced NaNoWriMo to LudoCraft. Lasse has written 759 851 words by now, has a ten-novel streak of finished NaNos and is definitely planning to write his eleventh this year. On comparison, I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo four times, have finished twice and at both times with almost the exact required word count. To study what inspires and fuels creativity in the darkest of months, I decided to ask Lasse to share his words of wisdom.
Marja: You have completed NaNoWriMo several times. Would you recommend spending one’s November this way?
Lasse: If you have some free time you’d like to destroy, and you’re feeling (even slightly) creative, yes by all means.
M: What is the best thing about NaNoWriMo?
L: Unexpected creative things can happen, your story and characters can do something you had no way of anticipating. Also, consuming red wine in good company during writers’ meetings.
M: I also think one of the best parts is the peer experience! Seeing how your writing buddies are progressing, especially when you can see their word counts at the NaNoWriMo website. But what is the worst part?
L: It can be a race against time; sometimes there just isn’t enough time, you aren’t inspired enough and you start to fall behind. Then you might have to catch up by sacrificing sleep. Especially if you aim for a double word count (100 000) or more. I necessarily don’t recommend it but for me it has been necessary three times because the story was too large to be told in 50 000 words.
M: Have your learned something from NaNoWriMo?
L: I’ve learned that, like many things, being a novelist (in the meaning of completing a novel-length story, not necessarily getting commercially published) isn’t something godlike that only few can do. Anyone can do it by just deciding you can and then staying focused. Later I applied the same lesson to writing a 3D game engine from scratch. Some might tell you that you won’t be able to do it, or that it’s unwise.
M: So nothing is impossible! What is your advice to someone who is thinking of doing it for the first time?
L: Just go for it! Don’t be too hard on yourself or take it too seriously. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun! Every story might already have been told but your variation and viewpoint is still worth telling.
M: I totally agree. Also, I remember one particularly good advice I got during my first NaNo: if one story dries out just let it go and begin another one – every word is still counted. Secondly, I’ve found it important to just press on, reminding myself that this is not the time to edit. Thank you for your time, Lasse! And good luck with NaNoWriMo this year.
Marja Kuipers works as administrator extraordinaire at LudoCraft and has finished NaNoWriMo in 2010 and 2016. For even more fuel to flame your creativity, the latter novel can be found here.