NaNoWriMo: Why I don’t participate.
Hi, everyone! It’s the end of October, which means I’ve been seeing TONS of talk about NaNoWriMo around Twitter and Facebook. (For those of you unaware, NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month” — an event in November where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in a month.)
Since I started writing novels (at the end of 2008), I’ve had people encourage me to participate in NaNoWriMo. I have never participated in NaNo, and I don’t plan on doing so this year, for reasons I’m about to tell you now!
Before you start reading, know that I always support people who participate, and am not anti-NaNo in any way. I do think it can be a good way for someone to prove to themselves that they can write 50,000 words. I am simply explaining the reasons why I personally do not choose to participate.
1) I don’t like the notion that you “win” if you write 50,000 words in a month, and “lose” if you don’t. I don’t think writing should be a competition, and when you declare there are “winners” it is being set up that way. I also don’t think it’s “winning” if you write 50,000 words of nonsense. Tons of people can do that. I would consider a person who wrote 20,000 quality words in a month a “winner” above someone who wrote 50,000 disastrous words. Quality > quantity.
2) I don’t like the pressure of writing every single day. When I’m drafting, I write five days a week. If I wrote literally every day in a month, I would feel burned out and like I didn’t want to look at the manuscript for a minute longer! Break days are good for the brain 🙂
3) Everyone writes at a different pace. When I’m drafting, I can typically write 1,000 – 1,500 words before I feel brain-fried. I edit as I write, so while I don’t write fast, my first drafts typically are not despicable. At that pace, I write about 30,000 words a month. But hey, if I keep that up for 2-3 months, I’ll have a draft of a novel! I know it takes me about three months to finish a draft, and I’m fine with that. I wouldn’t want to rush and lower the quality of my work.
4) Writing should not be rushed. Sometimes while drafting, I’ll come to a section and realize I need to do more research to make the scene come to life. That means I may not get as many words written that day, but I’ll have done necessary research to make my novel better. To me, that is still progress, even though it may not be considered so in “NaNo world.”
5) I go out of town every November. On the second weekend in November, I always go to LAS VEGAS! (It’s a family event.) I’m usually there from that Thursday until that Sunday. Then at the end of November is Thanksgiving, and I usually visit my family up north. (Although I won’t be doing that this year since that’s when Timeless is coming out and I need to be home for that.) All of those days out of town make November a bad month for me to get 50,000 words done of a draft. (This is, of course, a 100% personal reason, but I also feel like there are many other people who visit family for Thanksgiving 🙂
So there you have it — my reasons for not participating in NaNoWriMo! When it comes down to it, I don’t like looking at the drafting process as a competition. It’s part of the art of writing, and each individual should approach drafting in the way that’s best for them 🙂
Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?