Monday, November 2, 2015

On Not NaNo-ing


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.


  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.

    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!

  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.)

    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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