I won the first year I participated. I finished the book and had to start on the second one in the series to meet the 50k word goal. And I did. Best. Feeling. Ever. Word count was somewhere around 51k by the time NaNo came to a close. I learned a lot about myself that year.
This year I learned even more about myself. And this year, with 18,662 words I won.
"Woah, woah, woah. Hold on a minute Anna. Isn't the goal for NaNoWriMo to reach 50k?"
Ah-hah! That is the misconception. You can be a NaNo Rebel and write a book of short stories. You can write a book of poetry, or an epic poem. The beauty of NaNoWriMo, is that you win as long as you write and don't give up.
Yeah you get to print out a cool certificate and when you post in the forums it will say that you're a winner. Not to mention you get major bragging rights.
But you know who else gets major bragging rights? The ones that didn't "win" but decided "Hey, I'm still going to write this. I'm going to write until the clock strikes midnight, even if it kills me, cause I'm not going to quit this book!"
So yeah, I didn't get to print out anything special, and I won't get major bragging rights, but I have something a little better than that. In my book, it's way better than that.
I have a book that I can't stop working on. A book I am totally addicted to. And I have this awesome feeling because I know that even though the odds were against me the whole time, despite being sick, having major assignments in school and the full nine yards, I still wrote 18k in a new book, and I didn't give up. And for me, that's a huge win.
The list of reasons why I should have given up are endless. The list of reason why the winners should have given up are endless too. But they didn't. We didn't. And that makes us winners.
So how the heck did/do we do it? More importantly, how can you do it in your passion, whatever it may be?
Ever heard the song "The Fox"? In it the singer praises the plethora of things that the fox does. And yet there is this one question driving him. After hearing all of these different animal sounds, "what does the fox say?" And he never gives up. He and his buddies even dress up as foxes to try to figure it out. They make crazy vocal sounds (and a couple of them are what foxes say-nice irony there!), and dance around the woods to find out what this animal says.
It's totally silly, but there's a really good point in here. He is driven by a question. People are driven by questions. Especially ones related to our passion(s).
For artists the question is "what does this painting look like outside my head?" For mechanics it's "What does this machine do and how does it do it?" And the lovely thing is, no matter what you're passionate about, there's going to be at least one question that drives you. You have got to find the answer to that question.
For writers it's the seemingly simple question of "What does the Muse say?"
And that's what I'm doing with this book. I can't get enough of the two I'm working on right now. The Sam and Cornith one, and the one that I started for NaNo. I can't wait to reach the end of these books, not because their a pain in the butt to write, or because I keep on yelling at my characters (ok, seriously, I warned them. LOUDLY.). It's because I have to figure out what the muse says.
For me, that's the driving question, and that's the reason I won. Because I didn't let people talk me out of my curiosity or my passion. Because I didn't talk myself out of it.
And that's what you can do. And once you let that question be your passion and drive you, you can do some incredible things. Who knows, along the way you might find yourself inspiring people, and meeting new ones that share your passion and question(s) and even help you think of new ones!
And that is awesome. It's almost as awesome as making something from scratch and having it surpass your wildest dreams. Maybe it's even more awesome (I think they're both equal in awesomeness).
But you'll never find out if you don't ask yourself the question. Don't be scared. Every great thing starts with a question. It's up to you to find the mind blowing answer.