NaNoWriMo comes around once a year, and anyone who follows a writing blog will at least be familiar with the month-long November event. Most writers think it’s fun, but some consider it proof that they’re the finest writer of a generation. But what does it take to take part, and why would a proud writer with a passion for writing avoid participation in this celebration of novel writing?
What Is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is an internet community-based project which began in 1999. It aims to promote writing with relatively broad rules without strict disciplines. The only rules a participant must follow are the time frame, which runs from midnight on November 1st to 11:59 pm on November 30th, and the total word count must equal 50,000. You can plan before that date, but the content written before the deadline may not be submitted.
There’s nor restriction on the genre. Anything is acceptable, fantasy or literary or fanfiction. The website states ‘if you believe you’re writing a novel, then we believe you’re writing a novel.’ Over 400 novels have been published as a result of NaNoWriMo efforts. It does what it does to promote writing, and there’s nothing to criticise. But I have reasons why I don’t participate.
Why I Didn’t Participate in NaNoWriMo
On a good day, I can write anything up to five or six thousand words, but not every day is a good day. On a great day, I have a clear plan, a full night’s rest, decent food, and motivation that seems to run on for months at a time. But most days, I’ve had half the required amount of sleep, fried chicken, and an endless search for something to inspire me while rewatching documentaries and short videos on YouTube.
If I had a good day, every day, which would also mean I wouldn’t have to work to pay my bills, then I could complete the word count in under two weeks. In fact, my time frame would be eight to ten days. But like I said, not every day is a good day. Some days, I struggle to write anything, but with a reason to write, I may be able to achieve the 1666 words required to make the target word count. Except sometimes I work 17 hours a day.
#1 I Already Have A Lot to Write
As of writing, I’m editing a novel, working on a poetry collection, and run a blog posting three articles every week which equals an average of 12 posts per month. NaNoWriMo may take up a significant part of my blog if I were to document my journey through the month, but how would that work? Would I have to ignore my novel? Delay my poetry collection? I’d still have to keep with the blog posting while writing an additional 1666 words a day.
If I didn’t work as well, then I’d have the time to write another 1666 words, but unfortunately, I don’t have a rich uncle without kids waiting to leave me a large inheritance. Maybe this time next year, I’ll be published and successful and would finally have a whole month to dedicate to NaNoWriMo, but then again, if I that was the case, wouldn’t it be better to start whenever and focus on the quality of my words?
#2 When Would I Edit My Novel?
Next week, I have a post coming about the things I wish I’d known before I started writing my first novel. One of those things is the desire to edit and how the process can take over everything. That’s what prevents me from committing to the month. I’ve learnt to enjoy editing, and rewriting, and wouldn’t ever be able to complete an entire novel in one month without having to fix those glaring problems.
I’m confident in my ability to write the minimum daily word requirements, but also believe I’ll exceed this limit most days, but I’m not too sure, I’d be able to shape my 50,000 words into a structured novel. When would I find time to fix the sentence structures, rework the prose, check grammar and fix all those visible plot holes I dug as I raced towards the finish line? There’s more to writing than reaching word counts.
#3 I Can’t Stick to Word Counts
Stephen King said you should cut 10,000 words from your first draft during the rewriting process, but every time I rewrite my novel, I add more details. All relevant, of course. When I began my first draft, I had a target of 70,000 words and wondered how I’d ever reach that goal. However, as I learnt how to write a novel, words flowed, and paragraphs grew longer. I’d deleted every irrelevant piece of information, but my literary “romance” still contains around 85,000 words.
I don’t know what kind of story I’d tell within 50,000 words, but there’s a good chance I’d surpass that word count. I’m not sure that’s a problem, and my novel would still count. However, I’d exceed the word count within a month and not have a completely coherent story. I’d need more time to edit out all the rambling details and to ensure the story flows right. Is it possible to write a good novel on 30 days, probably, but can I? I doubt it.
#4 My Mum’s Birthday and Christmas Is Coming
Well, my mum won’t let me forget her November birthday and counts the days down, so that would be an entire day lost in which I wouldn’t be able to write so my daily word target would have to increase by 55 words a day to keep up. Not a lot I accept, but hey, it’s an excuse I’m willing to use.
It’s also just before Christmas, and so far this month, I’ve lost three or four days to working 17-hour shifts. I’ve also lost evenings to drinking and not reading, so my inactive participation comes down to one reason. The only reason I haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo is,
#5 I Forgot It Was NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo happens every year at the same time, but it’s never brought to my attention until it happens. Social Media posts sprout and everyone talks about their plans to write a novel within a month. I’ve never in my life considered the possibility of writing a book within a month, but in November I’m forced to consider the possibility, yet I have no plan. Not because I like to play it by ear, but because I don’t remember the event until October 26th when the posts grow in numbers.
And that’s because November to me is my mum’s birthday and some other relevant personal dates. Will someone please remind me next year more than three or four days in advance. Cheers.
Thanks for reading. Let me know if you participated this month in the comments below. I’d love to read your work.
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