NaNoWriMo Isn’t For Everyone

By | November 21, 2011

Last week, we posted about strategies for making it through National Novel Writing Month. This week, a couple of us are going to talk about why we aren’t doing NaNo this year, and why that’s totally fine.

Rachel Halpern (Alpha 2007 & 2008):

I learned a lot from NaNo – I learned how much plot you can fit into 50,000 words, for one thing, but I also got the chance to experiment. In doing so I learned a ton about writing changing points of view, and I learned a lot of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Among other things, I learned that I’m not good at getting to the point quickly, that I am easily distracted away from writing one thing for a long time. The third year I didn’t feel like NaNo was teaching me anything anymore – that it had stopped showing me my weaknesses and started exacerbating them. So I stopped. But I think I learned a ton from doing it, and it was great motivation to write (and I think it’s important to note that even if you don’t finish, just trying to do NaNo makes you write more than you would have otherwise, and that’s totally worth doing, and you deserve congratulations anyway!). For everyone who’s still learning, and still being motivated, good luck! I hope you write more than you would without it, and I hope you learn a lot.

Sarah Brand (2006 & 2007):

As an avowedly slow writer, NaNoWriMo is somewhat terrifying to me. Don’t get me wrong… I have tremendous admiration for writers who participate, and I really wish that, just once, I could write 50,000 words in a month. This year, with college finally out of the way, I was going to try.

Then, in October, something surprising happened. Knee-deep in revisions on the novel I’ve been working on for three and a half years (see above: slow!), I sat down and wrote 14,000 words in eight days. And they were good words, as one of my friends was kind enough to confirm shortly afterward. The right words. The experience more or less convinced me that, for me at least, NaNoWriMo would be impossible. Why? First, that pace wasn’t sustainable for me. I ended up crashing and barely writing at all for a week and a half. Second, as a rule, I can only write that quickly when I know the plot inside and out. (Why, yes, I am an outliner! But that’s another post.) So, this November, I’m instead challenging myself to write for ten minutes every day. Slow and steady and underachieving wins the race… at least, that’s the plan.

All of which is to say, if for whatever reason you don’t feel like NaNo is for you, you’re not alone. Best of luck, for this month and all the months to come.

What do you think? Have you decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year, and if so, why? Let us know in the comments!

One thought on “NaNoWriMo Isn’t For Everyone

  1. Catherine Krahe

    I have to chime in here because I have never done Nano, but I feel like I’m the type of person that could, and therefore should*. I am a speedy, fairly clean writer, at least when I’m going.

    Except I stopped writing novels because every single one was broken beyond repair in the same way, and that way is my id. Left to my own devices, I write what makes me happy, and that’s not the same as what makes me happy and is good.

    Rachel, I like your concept of Nano as a tool, rather than and end in itself. Nano’s not the tool I need right now.

    *check out Fallacy #1!

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