Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Why I'm Not Doing NaNo

Call me Scrooge if you want.

November is the month writers come out of the woodwork, participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to the uninitiated). It is a great time of fellowship with fellow writers, all encouraging one another to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. There are groups that meet all over the country and internationally. It is a big deal in the writing community.

And I've learned I need to sit it out.

I'm not saying NaNo is bad at all. It can help people who have always wanted to attempt a novel to take the plunge and start writing knowing they have company. Experienced writers can use it as a jumpstart to a new project. Technically, it is supposed to be a new project and not a previous work, but I know many people use it as a time to get more writing done.

I've found it doesn't work for me.

I've tried it twice now. One time I participated in a group and made some friends there that I still keep up with on Facebook. It just doesn't help me in my writing. Both times, I've plowed ahead trying to keep to the 1667 daily word pace required to finish in thirty days. Both times, it drove me into a wall with my writing that took me a couple of months to get around.

I don't know why it makes me crash. I've realized that forcing it won't work for me. I was even tempted to try it again this year, but a good article by my friend Becky Miller helped me identify my problem during NaNo:
...the pace doesn’t allow the new writer to collect himself when the story bogs down, to learn what might be the problem, and to discover how to get out of it.
I will be trying hard in November to keep BIC (butt in chair) and press ahead with my story, especially since I'm in a good place with my plot. I'll be cheering on all my writing buddies doing NaNo as well. I just won't be going for the 50,000 goal with you, but best of luck to you!
Have you done NaNo before? If so, how did you do? Please share!


  1. I've tried NaNoWriMo twice before as well, and it hasn't worked for me, either. Last year I was able to write more words than I ever had in a month, but it still fell far short of the goal. I was forced to shelve the story when I realized the heroine could save the day with one savvy move - 20,000 words in.

    I almost jumped in again this year, but common sense won out. Any story ideas that I've thought through enough to write I've already started. I have three fun ideas that I'd love to write, but they are still firmly in the "what if" stages.

    As primarily a pantster, I need that thinking time figure out where the story's going next. I speed up toward the end of the story, but even then my average tends to be 1000 words a day - far less than what NaNo requires.

  2. Katie, I hear you. My last attempt at NaNo did give me the seeds for a chapter or two, but I got so far ahead of where I was with my plot that I was really hung out to dry.

    We need to have a support system for writers who can't do NaNo!

  3. Anonymous1:48 PM

    I've done NaNoWriMo twice before. The first time, it was just to see if I had the guts and ability to write a whole novel.

    The answer: yes! And I've been editing the thing ever since. It's almost ready for submission, and I've gotten good feedback on it.

    The second time, I was just doing it as a way to unwind from the editing the first NaNo job. I got 10,000 words into it, mostly because it wasn't a huge priority. The story is worthwhile though, and I look forward to coming back to it one day.

    This year, I really need to finish editing that first NaNo attempt--actually finish it, where I'm sort of happy with it.

    NaNo's good at starting things, I've found, but it's not great at finishing them, even with the editing month they have. Plus, because you're just going through and typing whatever you feel like in a NaNo novel, editing the thing is super-annoying. The first time through was mostly just deleting, deleting, deleting! I wasted a lot of time on really stupid stuff trying to make word count. That's another downside to NaNo.