NaNoWriMo? Not For Me, No.

Lots of writers seem to be gearing up for National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo.

For those not ‘in the know’, the goal is to spend all November to cobble 60,000 words together, so you can say you wrote a novel in a month. And quality be damned, because you shouldn’t spend too much time on editing and revision if you want to churn out 2,000+ words a day, every day.

Many writers consider it a challenge. Me? Not so much.

I’ve never participated. I’m too busy writing to join challenges. Just as I rarely respond to writing prompts. I don’t ‘play’ at writing or see writing as a ‘sport’, where you have to attain a certain number of words to reach the finish line.

I don’t care about the quantity, I care about the quality.

I know, I know. The goal is to get those writers who spend weeks on torturing themselves, agonising over writing the perfect 1,000 words in a month to throw caution in the wind and write!

Yes, I got that memo.

It’s one of the first things I give as advice to people who write a 1,000 words and ask me if they can be writers. Just write the whole story down without editing and stuff it in a drawer for six weeks, knowing you can finish writing a story, then take it out and edit the mess into something legible.

However, nobody ever needed to tell me that. When I started writing, I didn’t care what other people would think about it. I was too busy enjoying myself to worry about other people’s opinions.

I’m unusual, I guess, in the aspect that I never had the same questions about writing that many writers seem to have. I know why I write. I know what I want to write about. I know what a writer is, so I don’t need to ‘Be A Writer’.

I don’t worry about the length of a chapter or sentence or paragraph or scene. I didn’t go to school to learn how to write, I read books and told stories and used my experience to craft my work.

Writing is a joy to me, because it is an outlet of creativity that might otherwise fester inside me and turn me into someone I don’t want to be. I live vicariously through my characters. And that is not a challenge, but a liberation.

To play games, like ‘how many words can you write with the letters kfjaofeiruefocirgfj’ seems to cheapen the art of exploring your psyche and creativity to me. And I don’t mean in the dramatic sense. I like to look in the abyss and see if there are monsters looking back at me. Gives me something to write about.

I know I could churn out 2,000 words a day for a month, but where’s the fun in that? So I can give myself a pat on the back for persistence? I published three books and three short stories in the Amsterdam Assassin Series, I’m prepping a stand-alone novel for publication and I’m writing and researching the fourth novel in the series.

I don’t need to be challenged to write. I need time. I need people to take over the time-consuming and soul-destroying task that is self-promotion, so I can free up more time to write.

And I’m not saying you shouldn’t participate in NaNoWriMo or other challenges, if that’s your thing. But to me, there are more worthwhile things to do this November.

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4 Comments on “NaNoWriMo? Not For Me, No.”

  1. LOL, Martyn – FYI, it’s 50K. I totally get what you’re saying. However, I loved doing NaNo. I’ve only done it once, but will do it again this year. And I didn’t follow the “don’t edit” rule – I was constantly editing [I simply can’t help myself, and that’s how I work].

    Doing NaNo isn’t so that at the end of the run you have a completed novel, but perhaps have the bones of a work that you can work on completing. For some authors, it gets them over writing humps [not that you need that!]. For others, it’s to play with a different writerly voice. Or, for those who aren’t focused, or need deadlines to help them focus. Or non-authors or -writers who want an excuse to write creatively to feed some other aspect of their lives. The reasons for doing it are many, and the “rules” are to help people [those who aren’t professional writers or make their livings as authors] relax and just enjoy the process. So writing can be a joy for them, too, even if they don’t pursue it beyond a NaNo stint.

    Most people who participate don’t complete it – something like 14%. So, for most, it’s more about the fun and the community than it is about churning out a novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with that, Roberta. Don’t think that I’m ‘dissing’ NaNoWriMo. What confused me is that there were people who wondered why I didn’t ‘do NaNoWriMo’, as if not participating somehow reflected on my dedication to the art.

      I have a problem with anyone elevating a challenge to be a measure of someone’s dedication to writing. If it helps to motivate someone, fine, but I don’t think guilt-tripping people into producing pages of words is in any way related to helping people explore their creativity.

      Too many people want to ‘Be A Writer’ and not enough of them actually write. Yes, it’s good to write every day, if you can. But it’s better to write twice a week with passion, than every day because you feel you HAVE to. Because in the end, it’s not about how many pages you can fill with words, but whether your books are worth reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The voice of reason has arrived. Someone finally said it. NO! NANOWRIMO is not how to write.

    I love to write and I love to feel the story come together. Quality – not quantity is what writing is about for me. Any deadlines, including a month to write the first draft of a novel, turns writing into a chore. Take my glasses and my coffee but don’t force me to write on a schedule. My creative juices don’t work that way.

    Liked by 3 people


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