Every November thousands of people from across the world participate in NaNoWriMo. The challenge, to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. At first it sounds nigh on impossible – after all it’s a tall order for anyone, especially if you’re balancing work and family life at the same time. Despite being run since 1999, there’s still a surprising number of people who have never even heard of NaNoWriMo and this is a real shame.
Why? Because a lot of us don’t make time for creative outlets, be it writing, music, filming, dance or anything else for that matter. It is also why challenges such as NaNoWriMo or the 48hr Film Challenge gain such momentum – it gives people a time scale, a goal and perhaps most importantly a community to support them with their creative project.
This support is crucial as choosing to pursue something in the arts can often be met with criticism or a lack of encouragement – perhaps it’s time to change that attitude. More and more research points towards creative outlets being good for the mind, The DANA Foundation found that arts training improves attention and cognition, whilst a study from Germany suggested that “‘the production of visual art improves effective interaction’ between parts of the brain”.
Even if you ignored this research, the value of arts and culture to society still seems blindingly obvious. Not everyone will be the next Picasso, Mozart or Stephen King but if at the end of the day they have something to offer the world, how can it be anything but worthwhile. In essence, challenges such as NaNoWriMo highlight the need for more opportunities to get involved with a creative project, and a push for time spent on such projects to be valued.