Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Ok If You Don't NaNo

Nanowrimo is a week away and pretty much every writer I know has been talking about it. For those uninitiated, Nanowrimo = National Novel Writing Month = write a 50,000 word novel in November.

I am a huge proponent and supporter of this program. I have blogged about how getting words on the page is so important and how all writers Nano to some degree. As cool as Nano is, it's OK if you don't take part. This does not make you a loser or a failure or any less of a writer than people who participate. I love the online writer community, but I feel like there is this unspoken peer pressure to do Nanowrimo. It's easy to succumb to FOMO (fear of missing out) when you read blogpost after blogpost of writers gearing up for Nano. And it will get more omnipresent once November begins.

Confession: I have never partaken in Nanowrimo.

I first heard about it in fall 2009. I tried to participate that year. I'm a mega-plotter, and my outline has to be rock solid before I feel comfortable drafting. I also have to know my main character, get acquainted with him/her, figure out the voice. I can't just "jump" into writing -- that's just how I roll. I rushed to have my outline plotted, and on Nov 1, I dove in. I sat down to write and sputtered after 200 words. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't have a feeling for the MC.

I was working around Nano's timeline, not mine.

Each year, I always say I'm going to Nano -- and I really want to -- but the timing never works out. I was going to Nano this year. I'd been working on my outline, but I found myself scrambling to meet the Nov 1 deadline. It's like a countdown clock that is ticking in my head. Do you ever find yourself typing horribly when someone is standing over your shoulder? That's how I was feeling this month. For some writers, Nano is great. It's that kick in the shorts they need to get started. But it's not one-size-fits-all. Maybe I'll start writing my book on 11/15, or 12/1, or 1/1. The point is, I will go by my own schedule.

And it's ok if you do, too.

Like I said, Nanowrimo is a wonderful event. But it's not for everyone. Don't feel ashamed or ostracized if you don't participate. Don't feel embarrassed that you couldn't get yourself all prepared to start writing at midnight November 1. There are 364 other days to start writing your book. You can still be a Nano cheerleader and a rock of support to other participants. And maybe you'll use the 30 days of Nanowrimo to perfect your outline, or finish a draft, or revise a draft. Or it will just be a countdown to Thanksgiving like it is for 99% of the world.

Whatever you do in November, make sure it's what is best for you.


  1. Great post! I've done Nano the last four years and think it's awesome, but it's certainly not for everybody. My friend last year is an extreme plotter, and the fast pace of Nano freaked her out. So it's great for some people, but not for others. The important thing is just to keep writing!

  2. I will partially nano. I'm planning on writing like the first fifteen days and then stopping.

  3. I signed up for NaNo but I'm cheating because I already have 26,000 words of my draft. My goal is to get to 60,000 by the end of November. So I signed up to "participate" but really to cheer on my friends and try to kick my ass on the wordage. I've never done it before....see my recent blog posts for more info :)

  4. Personally, I just don't get it. You write or you don't. You're inspired or you're not. What's the point of forcing yourself to write a word count in an absurd amount of time? Just to prove you can do it? What's the point of that? What good can come out of a story you force yourself to write in 30 days? I will never understand it. I admire those who muscle through it, but really, has any successfully published book been a result of NaNo?

  5. This is an excellent post. I've been doing NaNoWriMo for nine years now. It really is a lot of fun. I'd love to do it every year for the rest of my life. Yet I know writers who do things in their own time and find the pressure from NaNo too overwhelming. I don't think any less of them.