Monday, November 2, 2015

On Not NaNo-ing

Confession:

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo.

Confession #2:

I've never done NaNoWriMo.



Now that that's out of the way, the big question is BUT WHY?

Don't get me wrong, I think that NaNo is (mostly) a great idea.  (I say mostly because, depending on your goals and your writing style, the "you can write a book in a month but you need to revise for the next three months" thing might not be your best bet.  You do you.) I love the community that's built up around it, the support, the energy--all coming from a defined and difficult but not impossible goal.  Who doesn't love goals? Who doesn't love getting encouragement and support on rough days and built-in-cheerleaders on good days?

Nobody, that's who.

So why NOT NaNo?  For me--a few reasons.

1) Resisting the Shiny.  Look, I love a shiny new idea as much as the next writer, but--ooh, hey, the new holiday cards are up on Tiny Prints!

Ok, let me try again.  I love a shiny new idea as much as the next writer, but distractions are the bane of ever finishing anything.  And I'm nearing the home stretch on a draft right now.  I have probably 20k to go on it.  Starting a new project now lets me set that shiny 50k goal...but it undermines my goal of finishing this project.

2) Related, I love this project.  A lot.  ALOT.  In the immortal words of Hyperbole and a Half:



so I'm not really interested in taking a break from it right now.  This project is my Alot, and I care about it. A lot.

3) Honestly? While it would be fun to try the NaNo 50K in a month method, it's really not my style. (Ducks.)

Not that styles can't (and shouldn't) be challenged--they can (and should).  It would be a good learning experience.  But I can say fairly confidently that my writing style is more hiking the Appalachian Trail than sprinting or even marathoning.  Slow and steady.  Frankly, less shitty drafts up front.  I KNOW. Write shitty first drafts is the most freeing writing mantra ever, unless you're me and you want to write relatively cohesive first drafts and can do so by taking a different route.

I did Camp NaNo this summer, and enjoyed that.  I met my goals, started the project I'm finishing now (this included a long break in the middle while I did some revisions on another project), and loved the community.

4) The novelty of finishing a draft has...well...kinda worn off.  "Winning" NaNo is a first step.  It means you have a draft, a start, that you can do it.  And it's awesome. But I've done it. A few times.  Not in a month, and not with the celebration of a great community alongside me.  Still...I think it's fair to say that I know the feeling of finishing a first draft, I love the feeling, I pop a bottle of Champagne every time (ok, I crack a bottle of Malbec, let's not split hairs here)--but I don't feel the need to chase it or accelerate it any more.

So if you're NaNo-ing--good luck! Enjoy! Seize the day and write through the night! Make this YOUR year!

And if you're not? Keep writing, just like you always do.

5 comments:

  1. Yah, after day one I kinda gave up on Nano. Really not my style haha. Having a word-count goal doesn't really work for me. I like giving myself the room to write a little, brainstorm a lot, and on other days, write like crazy. Another thing is that having a word-count goal makes me aim for quantity rather than quality (resulting in a hellish draft that will require a great deal of revising)

    So, at my friend's suggestions, I'll Nano -- but do it my way. Customize it somehow.

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    1. Yes! I'm all about "you do you." Holding yourself accountable might mean word count per week or month rather than per day--and it doesn't have to be breakneak pace! Good luck with your new project!

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  2. Yeah, I did NaNo all through college and grad school. Toward the end, I managed to "win" (although the second win was technical, as I got to 50k but never finished), but haven't done anything with the MSes since, because I just don't like them at all. That group effort/accountability really helps me finish, which is my biggest issue in writing fiction, but I think I would do better with a longer deadline so it's less rushy and the plot ends up taking fewer really stupid, impossible-to-revise-out-unless-I-scrap-everything-after-the-first-quarter plot turns. (They never seem that stupid until I reread. Sigh.)

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    Replies
    1. I totally hear you on the "OMG this makes zero sense" rushed first drafts. I have a serious mess of a "what was I thinking" in my "drawer novel drawer" that I don't even know how to revise, ha.

      I also like group accountability and encouragement--I did Camp NaNo this summer, where you get to set your own word count, and *loved* that. I set a lower wordcount, achieved it, was happy with what I did (a start on a new project), and made friends. Total win.

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