Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo

Don’t worry, I’m not a NaNoWriMo hater. (Hatin’ is bad.)

Sure, there are reasons not to like it. Agents, naturally, don’t relish the flood of half-baked queries they get on December 1. Some authors bristle at the notion that the unwashed masses will claim a place in their hallowèd pantheon after just thirty days of wild scribbling. I even hear a few of the dumber critics worrying that we need better books, not more books (as if the classics they revere sprang fully-formed out of Zeus’s forehead).

But the sheer joy and enthusiasm of the event outshines all these quibbles. It gets people writing, and that’s what matters. I live in a country where 25% of the population doesn’t read books. We need all the help we can get.

I love National Novel Writing Month.

Nevertheless, NaNoWriMo is about getting people past the notion that novel-writing is some insurmountable task. As someone who’s already written three novel drafts (and put two of them through lots of revision), I know I can do it. I’m there. The focus now is not on Getting It Done, but on Doing It Better.

Of course, it’s still possible to use NNWM as a sort of Five Hour Energy shot, giving you the burst you need to crank out the rest of that manuscript. I’ve done that in the past, and it works well. But for me, the overwhelming focus on word count only lends itself to first drafts, and at the moment, I’m revising. I’ve set myself a goal of getting this story ready for submission by Thanksgiving, so I can get back to working on the novel by December.

What do you think about NaNoWriMo? Have you done it before, and did it help you?

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12 responses to “Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo

  1. Like you said, my first (and only really….) success at NaNoWriMo help me see that I could do it, that it was possible, which I believe is NaNoWriMo’s greatest strength. I also it’s great to siphon that great energy behind it and its website, which is great regardless if you’re doing NaNo or not.

    I love NaNo and definitely think it helps. But I think you should be prepared that the results aren’t going to be amazing and face NaNoReality. Even if you win NaNo once, doesn’t mean you’re going to get published in a few months, or even a year (…if ever, sigh).

  2. I’m pretty much in the same boat as you. I really enjoy NaNo, for the camraderie and nostalgia more than anything else, but I’m not doing it this year.

    Doing NaNo showed me that I could write a full novel, and I’ve enjoyed doing it every year that I’ve attempted it, whether I “won” or not. But I don’t need the validation or proof that it’s possible anymore. And, although I’m still working on a first draft, I’m moving along at my own pace and don’t need an arbitrary goal to assist me. In fact, putting pressure on myself to write more than normal may have the opposite effect and completely derail my progress.

    But I’m not ruling out next year. 🙂

  3. Great post! I don’t do NaNo, but for slightly different reasons. Writing is very mental for me — OK, I suppose it is for everyone, but I mean it’s very *attitudinal*. And NaNo doesn’t put me in the right frame of mind. I get so wrapped on word counts, and so disappointed if/when I don’t meet them, that it ends up becoming a hugely negative cycle.

    (For me it’s more about putting in the time than the words. If I focus for 2 hours, I can easily get 500 to 1000 words. But if I focus on that word count, a day or more can pass and all I do is beat myself up for not hitting my quota yet.)

    So no, I don’t do NaNo, but I know LOTS of writer-friends who do and who love it. In fact, my writing buddy Erin got her agent from her NaNo novel (after revisions, of course!) and it’s a brilliant book.

  4. Pingback: Monday’s Top 5 | The Happy Logophile

  5. I guess the book I am publishing at the moment can be called a novel, so like Jo, I don’t need to know I can do it, but I need to know that I can do it “in a shorter time”.

    So I am doing NaNo to focus and force myself to put in the hours, and in the process write towards a bigger goal than just 50k in fact

  6. I think NaNo is a great idea, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never do it. I think the great thing about it is what Jo alluded to, that it makes writing into a social event, and that’s cool. I talked about that on my blog last year: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=1357.

    But, as I said on the blog, it doesn’t speak to my condition. But it does annoy me when people bash it. If it’s not for you, don’t do it. That seems simple to me.

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