On NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is coming.

If you’re not familiar, it’s held every November, and it involves writers signing up on a website with a promise to write a novel between November 1 and November 30.  They have thirty days to try to write 50,000 words, and a community has grown up around it—a whole international society of writers who record and post their word counts, compete, and cheer each other on.

I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo.  But let me tell you about my perspectives on it: why it’s wonderful, and why I nevertheless don’t participate.

Why NaNoWriMo is GREAT:

  • Many writers struggle with motivation to write.  Being forced to make the time or else admit “losing” NaNoWriMo helps some.
  • Many writers do MUCH better if they have an audience of people expecting and hoping that they will succeed.  Since writing is by nature a solitary occupation but not everyone is a solitary person, having a community poised to watch your word count grow is rewarding.
  • No one expects a novel composed in thirty days to be Shakespeare.  Therefore, the pressure is off for those writers who constantly self-edit during the writing process.
  • The community provides access to so many other writers; novelists can find critique partners, like-minded folks, and friends.

Why I’ve never done it (and will never do it):

  • November is an unusually busy month for me most years.
  • I already write fast.  Writing a novel in 30 days isn’t a challenge for me because of my bat-out-of-Hell writing style.
  • I don’t play well with others when it comes to creativity.
  • I don’t tend to need encouragement.  I’ve got that pretty well licked; I never stop writing.
  • The last thing I need is another hastily written manuscript lying around for me to edit.
  • I tend to get easily roped into editing for less experienced writers if I think they need me.  Failing to put myself in a situation where I would definitely encounter them is an act of self-preservation.

If you’ve always wanted to write a novel but you couldn’t get off the ground, or you’ve started project after project but fizzled out, or you need a reason to dive in . . . do NaNoWriMo.  I have a ton of friends who find it really rewarding.

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