Even if you don't normally write fiction, you can benefit when you participate in NaNoWriMo.
Welcome to November!
As a writer, there is no way to avoid NaNoWriMo in November. As a freelancer — and a fairly uncreative writer at that — I don't usually get excited about NaNoWrio. I did participate in NaNoWriMo once and even finished the requisite 50,000 words.
I occasionally dabble in fiction (and I never, ever let anyone read it), and I think that anyone can benefit from participating at least once in NaNoWriMo.
Stretch Your Writing Muscles
One of the best reasons to participate in NaNoWriMo is because it forces you to stretch your writing muscles. For freelance writers who normally focus on non-fiction, it can be a great way to get out of your comfort zone and practice different writing skills.
Growth only takes place when you push yourself, and this applies to writing as well. If you want to become a better writer, try something different. Write a piece of fiction during NaNoWriMo and you'll be amazed at how your writing improves.
Boost Your Writing Productivity
When I made the decision to participate in NaNoWriMo years ago, it forced me to evaluate my writing schedule and make changes. My writing focus improved because I knew I didn't have time to get distracted by the items that didn't matter.
If you're going to make the time to write 50,000 extra words, you'll need to improve your writing productivity. If you write every single day, You need 1,667 words each day to reach that goal. If you only write 20 days out of the month (no weekends) you need to write 2,500 words per day. Either way, those are extra words you need time for.
Another way that NaNoWriMo can help you improve your writing productivity is by breaking you of the habit of editing as you go. With fiction, you definitely don't want to stop to edit after each paragraph or page or chapter. This is good practice for ignoring what you're doing until you reach the end of the piece.
As a freelancer, you probably won't need to worry about editing something that is 50,000 words, but you still should wait until your entire piece is done — whether it's 700, 1,200 or more than 2,000 words long — before you start to edit.
The habits you are forced into when you participate in NaNoWriMo can carry over to your freelance writing career going forward.
Learn More About Storytelling
Even when you write nonfiction, it can help to know a little something about storytelling. While I still struggle with storytelling, I find I do better with it when I take the time to write fiction on occasion.
You can participate in NaNoWriMo to give yourself a crash course in storytelling. Even if you don't have a clear idea of what you want to happen in your novel, and even if you don't feel as though your story is any good, the practice is more valuable than you think.
You can practice creativity, and get in the habit of storytelling when you take time each day to engage in a creative effort like NaNoWriMo.
I probably won't officially participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but seeing all of the posts about it from my more creative writer friends reminds me that I could use a writing challenge. Time to take the story in my head (it starts with the main character contemplating a cold-blooded murder — for what she considers good reason) and perhaps get something going in Scrivener.
I may not like the result, but it's a good writing exercise.