If you ask the Dayton, Ohio, NaNo group, those who know me likely consider me a prolific writer. I can hammer out seven hundred words in a fifteen-minute word war and have little problem writing fifty thousand words in less than three weeks. I'm focused and intense, man!
But I didn't always live in Dayton. For the previous three years before my first NaNo, I lived in Miami, Florida. It was the most consistently miserable time in my adult life. I felt trapped, I didn't have many friends, I didn't want to go anywhere. While I was in Miami, I finished a couple of short stories, but that's all. Prolific? Pshaw. I'd be lucky to write at all in the course of a month. I was seriously concerned that I had lost the ability to write, lost the magic that allowed me to express myself in words, and was trying to adjust to the idea that I wasn't a writer, after all. It was a rough adjustment because I didn't want to make it. I loved writing. It had defined me as a person since I was a kid! Since almost before I can remember, I wanted to be a writer, and I have worked to hone my craft. For those three years, I was in and out of dark moods brought on by my inability to write, and when I did it was dark stuff indeed.
Then, Ohio. I didn't know anyone and went to a NaNo kickoff party. I sat there awkwardly, not knowing what to do, really, other than write. But before the end of the kickoff party, I had been invited to an afterparty. Many of the people that were at that initial meeting became lasting friends.
Even better, I could write. The floodgates were open. After three years of almost no productivity, I wrote seventy-five thousand words in a month. The magic was back as if it had never gone, or even had grown stronger in its time away.
NaNoWriMo restored me to myself. The fears that I wasn't a writer evaporated in the warmth that the people there gave me, without being asked for it, without even knowing they were doing it. I will always love NaNo and the alchemy of experience that brought my art back to life.
NaNoWriMo name: swordandlion
2016 NaNo Project: editing Lord Goblin novels