As many of you know, November is coming up and with it, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Now, I love that for an entire month, writers gear up for a marathon of dedicated writing at the cost of personal time, family time, work time (I assume) and in some cases, personal hygiene—or so I’ve read. For writers who need an organized kick in the tail and the public support of fellow writers who’ve made the same commitment, I wholeheartedly shout, “Sally forth sweet souls!”
I’m not one of those writers. Not because I’m prolific year-round (I’m not) or because I shun organized, public activity (I do).
NaNoWriMo is not for me because the tradeoffs are not worth for me.
My busiest time of year
Family birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, and during it all, visiting family. Three months of celebrations and peopling kicks off in October and runs into January. I don’t have a month to spare to log several thousand words a day to make NaNoWriMo’s 50,000 word count or support fellow writers as they try to make word counts, too. I also don’t have time in October to prepare—and NaNoWriMo takes preparation.
Quality of life
I have a full-time job, a commute, a home to keep clean for my own sanity and a cat that does not fall under the “low maintenance” category of felines. I also love spending time with my husband.
My hands are filled with daily life, earning a living and making room for more books (also important). Throwing in the pressure to write 50,000 words in a month will take a memorable toll on these other, more important aspects of my life.
Besides, my cat has never respected “Mommy needs to write, so please get off my keyboard.”
Low quality work, low self esteem
If I’m going to bust my tail writing a novel in a month, I want something worth editing at the end. I’m still cobbling together short stories; I’m not in the right stage of growth as a creative writer to draft a novel-length I think is worth the 50,000-word marathon.
Meanwhile, I’d get to participate in NaNoWriMo alongside others who are already published, have already completed novels or are dedicated, budding writers who live, eat and breathe writing in a way reserved for those in that magical stage of life. I already have a well-developed case of Imposter Syndrome; participating in NaNoWriMo would not help.
I’m working on other projects. I’m writing my short stories. But I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo.
For those of you who are participating, however, I hope you kick some creative tail and come out the other side as a super-powered writer with your sanity intact and a first draft we’ll all soon be reading.
How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo from NY Book Editors has some good advice, which is good for writing in general.
NaNoWriMo: The Good, The Bad, and The Really, Really Ugly by Chris Brecheen offers thoughtful, balanced perspective on why or why not participate. Highly suggest every writer read this one.
How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo: Top 5 Tips by Leila Dewji offers straightforward advice on getting ready before you get started.
What about you? Do you plan on participating in NaNoWriMo? Share your thoughts in the comments.