The other day we’ve met our neighbor heading out with his dog and his camera. “It’s this time of the year,” he said with a smile. I also watch the growing display of Halloween decorations in stores (many more than what I was used to in Ireland) and the biggest pumpkins I’ve ever seen (which in a way proves the cliche saying that “everything is bigger in America”). Because, yeah, it’s this time of the year too.
And then, of course, almost every writer out there will recognize it’s this time of the year. Frantic plotting, digging out prehistoric projects for inspiration, desperately stocking on notebooks, caffeine-products, and snacks. As NaNoWriMo approaches, the writers’ universe on the Internet polarizes: from all decked-up to panic-stricken, authors share their preparation progress, exchange their NaNoWriMo usernames, and join the fantastic community that grows bigger and bigger each year.
Whenever I watch their preparations, sometimes rushed but always full of excitement, I feel like I’m missing out on something great. The call of the fantastic event lures me like a siren’s song, and I confess that each year I consider joining in. And then, I never do.
I’ve written about it before, but with two years having passed and my writer’s experience growing, I revisit the topic. Thanks to the 365k Club challenge I already know I can write 30,000 words within 30 days with quite an ease, and even reach as much as 40-45k in a good month, but I’ve also learned that variety is what makes my writing flow. When I get stuck, I switch from a novel to short stories or write another blog post. On worse days, I might be trying to write several various things, searching for the one that would “click” with me.
NaNoWriMo forces the focus on one project, so writing anything else slows the progress down, and even though I could pick one novel to work on as in the past some of the novels “demanded” my undivided attention, I’m not sure if I want to add such pressure to my writing process. Why would I stress myself?
I think that NaNoWriMo is a great way for all those busy people to try and carve out some writing time. It provides those who have extended family or busy social life an excuse to lock themselves away and ignore the incoming phone calls. It’s like a writer’s retreat wrapped around the necessities of daily life. But what about me? With no children and introvert approach to any possible outings, I have the comfort of weaving my writing into my life all year long. I don’t need a retreat, I don’t need excuses to write (if anything, I should limit the excuse I make up for not writing), so NaNoWriMo doesn’t seem like an opportunity anymore.
I’m also very picky with the challenges I join, choosing the ones that would help me grow or provide new experiences, so as alluring as the event is, I see no benefit in joining “just because everyone joins”. I still play with an idea of starting something new or working on one of my unfinished projects since I always have something new to write, but I don’t need NaNoWriMo to do that, right?
I guess, I’ll feel I’m missing out again.
What about you? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo or skipping it like me? What are your reasons to do it or to avoid it?
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.