Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo
It’s November, that time of year, when writers put themselves through the trauma of NaNoWriMo. For anyone not familiar with the acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month.
The website describes it as a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.
They also have this logo. The coffee, laptop, pens, paper all make perfect sense, although I don’t quite get the shield and the Viking helmet!
A number of people I know are taking part this year, and they’re all heads down, clocking up the words. Sounds a good idea? So, why aren’t I doing it?
- First, I don’t think I would manage the daily word count that is necessary. In this last week, I’ve clocked up 8242 words, but that’s unusual for me in a week, especially as I managed only 300 on one of the days. I seem to feel comfortable psychologically with a 1000 words a day, or a chapter of about 3 to 4000 words a week.
- Then, I don’t think it suits the way I work. To write 50,000 in a month, you have to approach it like a sprint, whereas for me a novel is a marathon. You need to write on average 1500 to 1600 words a day. That means keep writing, don’t look back, don’t think too much. Although I have to force myself not to be too critical during the first draft, but just to get the words down, I don’t like being unable to reread, ponder, and do some editing as I go along. If I don’t, I get a panicky sense of it all being out of control.
- And, despite being desperate to finish the first draft of my novel by the end of November (currently nudging 100,000 words), I think there’s a very different feel in the final straight of a novel in comparison to the early laps. Then it’s all new and exciting, a big adventure, with unknown peaks to climb. Towards the end, it’s exciting to think
might be in sight, but there’s the weariness, the pain and the understanding of the costs involved in such a long journey.
But perhaps I’m just looking for excuses. Writing a novel is a huge challenge. Writing a novel – or at least the first 50,000 words of one is a challenge cubed. But as the cliche goes – Never say never. Perhaps 2015 will be the year I NaNoWriMo!