Brace yourselves! The NaNoWriMo is… not coming!

NaNoWriMo(1) Are you doing it this year? I’m so not ready! I need my outline done. There is so little time left! OMG! Are you ready? Do you have any tips? Here’s my plan for success! What will you be writing?

If you are a writer or have any writing friends, these comments pop in social media quite often at this time of the year. Almost everyone is preparing for (or dreading) the start of National Novel Writing Month (that has, in fact, become quite international). Everyone, except for us, few people in the corner, watching this cheerful madness with unusual calm.

I have to admit that every year I feel charmed by the idea of a month devoted to writing, of trying to meet the 50k words mark and of sharing my successes and downfalls with the great community that NaNoWriMo gathers. Every year I play with the thought of joining and every year I decide against it.

I think NaNoWriMo is a great idea. A great way to encourage people to start their adventure with writing and actually get somewhere with their stories and ideas. But I think of it like I think of intensive dieting: it might get you to your immediate goal, but it won’ build a habit. And I think the habit – the habit of writing – is one of the most important things for a writer. That’s why even though every year I am tempted by the vision of madly typing whenever I can, I always choose the slower pace in hope to build up my writing habit. In the end, if I write as little as 500 words every day, that will give me over 180k words a year: a book and several stories. They will take longer to finish, but they might need less editing and rewriting later, so I might save some time anyway.

I will cheer on people taking part in NaNoWriMo and support them in their goal. I will be happy for them if they manage to write these 50k words in a month because it’s a great achievement! But at the same time, I will be sitting at my keyboard, getting my 500 words a day (and sometimes more, or less) down, hoping to build a habit that will stay with me for life. And every once a while, looking at the updates from my fellow writes taking part in this year’s NaNoWriMo, I will think: “Maybe next year?”

But this year, since the decision was made, I will just wish good luck and happy writing to all the participants. Even if you don’t “win” it, but manage to build your habit, if you get some words written not even participating: you’re still a winner, making steps towards your goals and dreams.

So… What’s your plan for November?

Joanna Maciejewska

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.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Wendy

    I think of NNWM like Valentines Day – why make a deal out of loving someone when you do it all the time anyway. I don’t suddenly have more time to write in November. My brain doesn’t work that fast. I need time to build up the ideas. Good luck to them, as you say, but I know it’s not for me.

    1. melfka

      Very nice comparison! I can relate to you when it comes to time and thinking about ideas. Sometimes I perceive NNWM more of a social event since people want to share their progress and seek approval. I wish them good luck, because it is a challenge, but people like you and me have different challenges and they are not limited to one month in a year.

  2. Alys

    Nano veteran here. I think what it comes down to for me is that Nano is the month where my writing comes first. I write/edit about 2k/day 5 days a week most of the year, which averages at around 50k a month – so in essence I do ‘Nano’ twelve times a year, but November is special. At least once a week, probably, my writing schedule is interrupted – my kids are ill, there’s a massive chore to do/ household emergency, my depression acts up, I have a friend round who doesn’t take hints, my family come to visit. Or I get a craft based interruption: I’m behind on my blog, beta-ing for a friend, am putting together a cover letter for agents, or there’s a competition coming up and I need to spend hours proof-reading. Out of that hypothetical 50k a month, between 5 and 10 is just lost and another ten get diverted into projects that, well, aren’t what I’d chose to be working on. What’s more, over twelve months of this, you get confirmed in bad habits, you lose your momentum.

    November is the month where that doesn’t happen. It’s the month where your writing – that heedless mess of first draft – is number one priority. Sod the kids, the housework, the nagging of your mates. Sod long-term, writing career goal, November is the month where you create the raw material for the rest of the year. What’s more, it’s the month where you find your writing time and re-establish good habits for the rest of the year. It shows you how much you can get done in a given space.

    Or at least, that’s how I read it. Perhaps it doesn’t work for everyone that way.

    1. melfka

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
      Looks like you have your writing habit already there (I can be a bit jealous about it 😉 ), so NaNoWriMo is different for you as you said it yourself. My experience is that many people don’t really work on the pieces they’ve wrote during November (there are some saying “I’m finishing the novel from last year’s NaNo” which speaks volumes…) or always find excuses not to write regularly and then they make a mad dash one month in a year (and sometimes fail as well).

      But in the end different people have different solutions (for example I would not be able to get up at 5 am to write before my day work, but some people successfully do so). If NaNoWriMo helps someone to get back on track with their routines, get the momentum and continue writing – that’s great! If they actually write their first novel or work for long months later to edit it and polish it – that’s great too. 🙂

      I do think NaNo can be useful and definitely seems like fun. I just don’t think everyone should do it just because everyone else is doing it. Sometimes I feel that to some people it’s more about socializing than about writing.

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