One of my bucket list items that I want to cross off someday is to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal is to write an entire novel, of at least 50,000 words, in the month of November. This challenge, started in 1999, has grown to be quite the ordeal. Last year over 400,000 participated. It is also quite a feat, because in order to complete the objective writers need to write a minimum of 1,667 words a day. NaNoWriMo is essentially a marathon for creativity.
The reason why NaNoWriMo has become so popular is because it provides a structure for people to chase their dream of writing a novel. Theoretically, I could sit down at any time and start writing a novel, but let’s be honest we all know that is not going to happen. Life tends to be too busy, there is always something else that needs to be done, and there are always distractions. The challenge of completing the goal in a month becomes a focusing point and a catalyst for action. It is the push that people need to put their creativity into high gear, create new worlds, and achieve the dream they have been putting off. Someday I want to participate in NaNoWriMo, but it will not be this year.
The biggest reason why this year is not the year is that I am not prepared to do it. I may have a couple of ideas, but I have not taken the time before hand to really think out or even outline what I want to write. I am also not prepared for the time commitment. 1,667 words is a decent amount to put out each and every day. That is not something that is going to just happen. It requires real commitment to make it a priority. This year I did not look ahead at a monthly schedule and intentionally carve out the time that is needed for that writing. Completing a novel in a month is a major accomplishment, which is why only about 10% of the people who take it on succeed. A key part to that success is preparation and being intentional.
I think there is a lesson or two for our faith in this challenge. NaNoWriMo challenges would be writers to be serious about writing for a very intense time. Without that challenge, days drift by and the words never seem to hit the page. The challenge causes writers to be more serious about writing. Our faith can be the same way. If we are not intentional about our faith days drift by and we never seem to find the time for bible study, for Christian service, or for intentional discipleship. NaNoWriMo is successful because it put a goal in front of people. In our faith, we should also establish goals to go after. Perhaps a goal could be to read the gospel of Matthew in a week, or to pray for the same ten people for ten straight days. Whatever little goals we set, setting goals in our faith to go after is essential for faith development.
The second lesson though is preparation. It is not enough to have a goal, we have to be prepared to meet it. This means we have to be willing to invest the time and effort. No one accidently writes a novel in a month, and in the same way we do not just accidently become better disciples. Both efforts require discipline, preparation, time and effort. Writing a novel in a month is hard work, but at the end of it writers have produced something, and hopefully it is something they can take pride in. In the same way, being a Christian was never meant to be easy. It requires a lifetime of investment, hard work, and self-sacrifice. However, If we take the life of Christian discipleship seriously then we will also find it to be worth it as we find humble satisfaction in a life that is being well lived.