My View on NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts on Sunday. If you aren’t familiar with it, NaNoWriMo – which stands for National Novel Writing Month – is a writing community event in which participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during November.

This will be the fourth year I’ve participated in the event, although I use the word participate loosely. What I do is enter my information and update my word count by day for the book I’m already writing anyway. I’ve never reached the 50,000 word goal, and except for one year, I’ve always started prior to November 1 – I guess that’s cheating? Also, I think that some people go to meet ups to write, something I’m not really interested in.

I’m not really sold on the value of NaNoWriMo to me personally, though I imagine there are plenty of people who want to write but have issues committing to actually doing it. For these writers, the event makes sense, as its designed to break down the mental barriers keeping writers from completing a book.

I’m not a binge writer – I can’t sit down for several hours and write the whole time. I prefer to work for an hour or two every day, typically six days a week – Sundays are for football – and build the story in a steady manner over a few months. This is partly because I get tired after an hour or two, and have a hard time continuing to write. But it’s also because I feel the need to work ideas out in my head in between sessions.

Given my style of writing, 50,000 words is difficult to churn out in one month (even though its too short to be an adult novel). Actually, it’s a lot of words to write in a month regardless of the style of writing. And I doubt that I’m the only writer who can’t write that fast without the product suffering. Some people feel the quality of the 1st draft doesn’t matter, that you should write shitty-as-you-please and just revise everything afterward. But I really aim to make my first drafts good, then revise to make them great (not that they always/ever get there). So while I keep track of my word count on the NaNoWriMo website during the month, I always expect to “lose” the challenge each year, and honestly, I think that’s better for my writing than reaching the word count goal.

Still, I think that it’s sort of a cool, fun event, and one that’s probably useful for a number of other writers. It’s just not one that I take too seriously. I plan to keep on writing after November’s over – at a pace that’s right for me – for as long as it takes me to finish the book.

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