Why I (probably) won’t NaNo

I have intended to participate in the National Novel Writing Month since . . . 2006. (That’s a little odd to me, since I don’t consider myself active writing fiction in 2006, but I did intend to, and even tried, even though I didn’t find out until November was already underway.) NaNoWriMo is a fun method to kill yourself go from nothing to half a novel (50,000 words) in 30 days.

tapping pencilAnd, like I’ve said above, I’ve intended to participate, but . . . for three years now, I never have, and this year will probably be the fourth.

The first year, I gave it a shot, but only came up with a couple thousand words. The next year, I’d just finished a 42,000-words-in-under-four-weeks reinitiation to writing fiction, and I was tired.

Last year, I saved a pretty good idea to do for NaNo. I had a chapter-by-chapter chart of post-it notes (which is still hanging in my room)—but by October, my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. Then I had another idea and I just couldn’t wait. I started on October 21 (happy anniversary, book!). Eight weeks and >80,000 words later (I forget that first draft count), I was done.

The thing that gets me about NaNo? I’ve definitely written 50,000 words in 30 days or less, or even a calendar month. But you can’t be a NaNo “winner” unless you have absolutely not one single word in your novel (plotting aside) on 1 Nov and 50,000 words by midnight 30 Nov. The rules say that it’s not 50,000 more words than you had on 1 Nov—it’s 0-50,000 or nothing. And just forget about doing it any other time of year, okay?

Yeah, I understand about camaraderie and all that—but really, if we have to churn out a minimum of ~1700 words/day, 7 days a week, who has time for a lot of online socializing? (It takes me about 3 hours, on flying fingersaverage, to get 1700 words a day, but I have a job and two kids. That’s all the free time I get.)

So this year, once again, I’m not participating. I just finished another billion word a day draft, and I’m tired. I’m recovering. I came extremely close to burnout with a 1700 words/day minimum for over a month, and I’m just not ready to go back there right now. You enjoy your NaNo; I’m going to go get reacquainted with these people living in my house, and attack the 18″ TBR pile.

What do you think? Will you NaNo? Why?

Photo credits: tapping pencil—Tom St. George; flying fingers by The Hamster Factor

10 thoughts on “Why I (probably) won’t NaNo”

  1. No Nano for me. I’d prefer to keep working on my current WIP and don’t want to leave it for a month. BTW, I’ve finally started redoing my website. Drop by sometime 🙂

  2. Not for me, either. I just came off a wicked project, I’m entering edits on another, and I should–theoretically–be doing rewrites on another. I don’t have it in me to whip up 50,000 words on something brand new. The very thought exhausts me. Maybe I could do it in, oh, June?

  3. Well I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one.
    NaNoWriMo is the greatest writing event on the planet, and you’d be silly not to succumb to the fervor.
    BTW one of the Rules of NaNoWriMo is that the Inciting Event must occur no later than 10K into the story.
    It’s true.

  4. I love NaNo because I am willing to play the game without worrying about “winning” in exactly the right way. I’ve started early, I’ve brought old projects to NaNo, and I’ve never had 50K words on the last day of November. But I also would never have found out that I can write 1,000 words/day if I hadn’t been trying for 1,667. I consider it the month of “peer pressure to shut of the internal editor and just WRITE THAT FIRST DRAFT.” And it works for me.

  5. I can’t imagine doing NaNo unless I happen to find myself submitting a manuscript in the middle of October with no other projects on the back burner. It’s hard enough for me to make progress on the things I’m writing currently without setting them aside for a month to begin something new.

    It sounds like a great idea for someone who wants to get in to novel writing, though.

  6. @Livia—thanks for the heads up! I’ll be sure to check it out.

    @Annette—*pats your hand* Just rest, darling. Just rest.

    @Andrew—Hm. And in a 50k word novel, that’s 20% of the way through. STILL adhering to Story Structure 😉 .

    @CKHB—Then why all those rules in the first place?

    @Don—Yeah. I’m actually in that situation—just submitted, and the only other MS I could work on are sequels to that, and I kind of don’t want to put too much work into them if that first one gets rejected. But man, I’m just tired. I need the sleep this year. 😉

  7. I’ll definitely do NaNo. I have trouble turning off my internal editor. NaNo is the perfect way to force me to keep writing. I’m currently doing all my pre-writing, including characterizations and plotting.

  8. Yes, I’ve signed up again. It will be my third year. Each time I drag my heels to the brink of November 1st, dreading the commitment and the time away from my other works in progress but knowing that once I get started it will be an exhilarating run. I do it as an extreme writing exercise, to free write my way out of the creative stagnation that’s been building up as I revise, edit and rewrite other pieces. When I’m exhausted to the point of blah, NaNo rejuvenates me.

  9. Instead of starting a new novel, I’m going to finish one of the projects I’m currently working on. I would get too stressed out if I started something brand new right now. Maybe I’ll do it next year when the pregnancy hormones aren’t making me crazy!:)

  10. I loved reading your thoughts on this. I’ve blog hopped all over these past few days (a huge past time of mine) and personally, I’ve been fence sitting on NaNo. I thought I might give it a go this year. But. I have 4 young children. And a husband who all need me. And I like to socialize online. And bake chocolate. And live. I’m just not sure I can squeeze all that into November and still celebrate Thanksgiving and still love writing in the end.

    So, probably not me either this year. If I had no kids and no job, I’d probably participate, though.

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