To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo…

Editor’s Note: this is by one of our contributors. David is currently contemplating and planning on a modified NaNoWriMo himself – where a picture is worth a 1000 words. Literally.

I feel like at least fifty percent of the time when I mention to people that I write/want to be an author/need to work on my writing discipline, they ask me if I do NaNoWriMo. The answer, until this year, has been a hard pass.

This is the first year I’ve even kicked around the idea. Which I’m realizing I’ll need to settle on in…like…three days. For once, I’m not employed or in school. I’m currently not employed because I want to give my writing a fair shot…and now that I’m more settled into our new apartment, I definitely could. My husband is at work all day, and I could literally sit with my lovebird on my shoulder and just write. I even have a story I’ve been developing that I’m certain I could easily start a draft on. I’ve been meaning to force myself to write daily and make it an actual routine, much like a 9-5 job, and I think this would be a great way to get into that habit and schedule.

Yet even with all of those wonderful positives for why I should do it, I’m hesitant to try.

I think I don’t like the social and competition aspects. Just me, personally, but I hate talking with people about what I’m working on. My husband peeks over my shoulder and asks what I’m doing and I clam up. I’ve tried discussing ideas with him before, and I turn into this shy awkward creature who literally buries my head under blankets and pillows. I realize that’s something I need to work past, especially if I want to publish novels and have anyone anywhere read them (which I do), but it’s harder for me than I thought, even with someone who loves me unconditionally and supports me being a writer. The idea of having strangers cheering me on while writing is off putting. The idea of having other writers judge my work in discussion while they work on The Hunger Games 2.0 gives me anxiety, and I obviously have a bit of a judgment issue with the idea of talking with other people about their work. Plus, I’m an awful cheerleader. ‘Go Sportsball’ or whatever…

Also, I don’t feel like I want to “win” at writing 50,000 words. It doesn’t guarantee getting published, it’s not a full novel and it will still take several months if not longer to edit and flush it all out… Getting a badge online that says “you won NaNoWriMo” is not exactly a slot on the New York Times bestsellers list. I’m not an incredibly competitive person, and I don’t think I’ll want to be until I actually am competing for a spot on the NYT bestsellers list (move overย The Bible, I’m coming for your longest running streak record!)

I think a bit of me is curious to try it though. As I said, maybe it would actually create the discipline of “writing is my job and I do it from 10-3 everyday.” Worst case scenario, I make an account, try it for a week, find out it really isn’t for me, and I don’t get a participation/victory badge. Boo Hoo.

Does anyone else do NaNoWriMo? Any thoughts, advice, disagreeing ideas? Any random comments on how Mona Lisa Sapperstein is the woooooooooorst?

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5 responses to “To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo…

  1. I’m waiting for November to be National MicroStory Writing Month. I’m ready for that. Oh yes.

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  2. I did it two years ago. I’d just learned of its existence and I went for it. I wrote the story I’d had in my mind for several years. I got to fifty words but I didn’t finish the story. I am still working on it two years later. I hesitate to try again with the month. Visually impaired, the website isn’t very easy to use. I agree with a lot of what you say in your post here. It does help with discipline though.

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  3. I love NaNo, but some of the reason I love it are the very reasons you are leaning against it! The competition helps drive me (though, I pretty much just focus on competing with myself), having the 50k words by the end of the month, with even the slightest amount of accountability to someone other than myself, gives me a focus (as a “start”, kind of like breaking a big project into smaller pieces). I like the community (though rarely actually talk about my own work in anything resembling specific terms), both online and in person.
    I’m also a big advocate of people making it what works for them. When it comes to drafting I do best if I plunge ahead in a crazy frenzy, dropping whatever I can figure out onto the page to be sorted out later, so NaNo serves as an extended brainstorming/sorting session for me – including character sketches, outline pieces, area descriptions, and so forth.

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  4. I’ve done Nano several times and basically ignore the “competitive” part of it, because I think it’s stupid. 1666k a day is about two hours work. But the practice of committing to do something and pushing for a deadline is a good habit to build, and for me it’s about camaraderie, not “winning.”

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  5. Pingback: I’ve Been Writing More… | Stay and Say Nothing At All

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