Let me start by making something clear—in no way am I against National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) itself. As with any gargantuan goal, I see value in it.
Setting goals. Applying butt to chair and getting the job done. Pushing yourself to finish. Building your writing muscles. The feeling of accomplishment at just having the novel written. The bragging rights alone can give you warm fuzzy feelings.
However, NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone.
- If doing NaNoWriMo doesn’t work for you, don’t do it.
- There are reasons to do it and reasons not to do it.
- Either way is fine.
NaNoWriMo is not for me.
November is the start of my holiday season. I’m one of those people who put their Christmas tree up as soon as possible. I’m all about Christmas 24/7/365. The only reason my tree isn’t up right now is because I married a traditionalist who (sigh) wants to wait until a so-called ‘reasonable’ time.
I’m not taking time out of my holiday marathon to write 2,000 words a day. I have holiday cheer to spread.
Is it that time already?
I’m a copywriter by day and a creative writer outside of business hours. Except for moments when I’m daydreaming about it while waiting in line at the post office, NaNoWriMo isn’t on my radar until October. By then, I’m completely unprepared and have zero enthusiasm for it.
(Plus, I’m already planning my holidays.)
This happens every year.
Too many words, too little time.
I have a full time job and a commute that’s an hour and a half long. That’s 9 hours in the office and 3 hours commuting each day. That’s 12 hours; half a full day.
Minus 8 hours for sleeping, that leaves me with 4 hours to get ready for work, eat, bathe, hug my husband, feed the cat, make sure I have clean clothes to wear, floss my teeth and go to bed.
Add the need to put out 2,000 words a day? Um, no.
Because quality of life.
I average 500 words for side projects a day and if I’m feeling ambitious, about 1,000 a day. That’s my limit, and it works for me.
Two words: not ready.
Seriously, I’m not ready. I’m still developing the habit of finishing my short stories. In many ways, my storytelling basics are still in development. Character arc, subplots, dialogue, body language…I’m still learning.
If I tried to write a novel in a month, I’d end up with a 50,000-word wad of mush. Uneditable, unreadable, unsalvageable.
That’s not self-doubt talking; that’s just fact.
Unless I end up with something I can work with, it’s not worth it to me to participate in such a grueling marathon.
For those of you who aren’t me.
There are other reasons to not participate regardless of your schedule or situation.
Chris Brecheen of Writing About Writing puts it pretty well in his post, NaNoWriMo: The Good, The Bad, and The Really, Really Ugly.
Just like running marathons with no training–just doing Nano without regular writing is a recipe for trouble. It’s very difficult to actually pull off. It can cause (mental) injury. It can lead to a crushing sense of defeat. And what’s worse, if you pull it off, you have to face a whole new set of challenges that are actually even more difficult. Read the full post.
Brecheen also points out that “Because of Nano, there are some people out there who AREN’T writers anymore.”
To be clear, whether I finish or not wouldn’t make or break me as a writer.
Still, that’s a sad thought. To put so much emphasis on this self-imposed marathon with a self-imposed deadline? To let it define you to the point of abandoning your passion? Heartbreaking.
Writers are writers.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I wish you the best. I love the idea of writers setting their sights high, setting goals and making themselves tell their stories. I love that members of the writing community band together to support each other and create their art and make their stories and in many cases, finally finish their novel like they’ve dreamt of doing.
On December 1, I can easily imagine that world-wide sigh of relief like Olympic athletes who’ve just finished their games.
If you’re one of them, I celebrate you. From the sidelines.
If you’re not, welcome to my bench. Let’s keep writing anyway. If you don’t do NaNoWriMo, you’re still a ‘real writer.’
What about you? Are you participating? Not participating? Share why or why not in the comments below.