So with a new month approaching many writers are quickly signing up to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo or for those who don’t know National Novel Writing Month, a time when writers strive to finish a 50,000 word (or a goal word count of their choice) novel within the course of November.
My first attempts at NaNoWriMo started in my junior year. However, I was disheartened after failing to come up with a good story idea and quickly turned away from the challenge. My senior year I had an idea, but my hands were trapped in splints and it was near impossible to type. By my freshman year of college I had already completed one novel and was in the middle of working on a second so I decided NaNoWriMo would be too much of a distraction.
This year the annual debate came round about whether or not to participate. And I made a firm decision not to do so and instead to set my own goals of writing 1000 words a day of whatever I chose. This is of course a personal choice, but I figured I’d share my reasons to see what other writers thought. Some might be surprised I decided not to do NaNoWriMo, but here’s why:
1. November is a crazy busy month. Like ridiculously busy. Lots of homework for students, getting to mid semester and figuring out if you’re going to pass a class or not. It’s the season of Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday rush to start preparing for Christmas. No, it is an awful month for people, especially students. Why it couldn’t have been in June, September, or January (I mean what happens in January besides unending longness?) is beyond me.
2. I don’t like forcing inspiration. My best story ideas are the ones I come up with at the spur of the moment. Forcing myself to sit down and make up a plot just makes the story, the characters, and everything else seem forced. I don’t want people to read works that seem fake and prefer giving a real life to characters that only comes when I give them room to breath and move and grow into their own stories and own personalities.
3. I like having freedom in what I’m writing and moving between different forms. I think this is my biggest problem with it as a writer. I believe there is an importance in being diligent to your craft, but I believe you should do it in whatever forms you feel most compelled to. So during this month I’ll be blogging, journaling, composing poetry, writing novels, and putting to paper anything else I feel I want to write.
4. I dislike the rush to get the product done and feel it thereby loses some quality. My first novel I was probably finished within a six week period if not a little more. The problem was I rushed to get it done because I was so excited to be able to claim I’d finished a book. As a result the writing was sloppy, the plot was poor, and I don’t even know what the real purpose was other than to boost my own ego. NaNoWriMo encourages a rush to finish work and no time to really perfect it. One cannot construct good motifs, foreshadowing, and themes when simply aiming for a word count on a page.
5. I dislike designating all of my writing to a certain month. I like making goals at all times and feel doing NaNoWriMo may encourage me to start feeling November is my writing month when really all of them are being dedicated to my writing. No, I am a writer always and I write novels no matter what month it is.
6. I want my writing to really come from my heart, not just a vain attempt to claim I finished a novel in under a month. What I’ve experienced starting NaNoWriMo several times before was that I selected the first storyline that seemed decent, and not one I actually cared about. My best novels have been the ones I wrote not because I had a perfect storyline, but because I had the motivation to want to share something with the world.
7. I’ve already written four books so I don’t feel it’s as special as other writers might. There’s kind of a “been there done that” feeling to NaNoWriMo even if I’ve never officially participated. That may sound vain but it’s the truth. Though finishing a book is always exciting it’s nothing like the rush of the first time ever.
8. I’m afraid of commitment. This is probably the biggest truth out there. I hate the idea of starting and failing. Even though I did start the last few years I never got more than a few days in and I never officially signed up on the website or anything like that. I’d attempt for a bit and then give up. I suppose that’s just a personal issue I have to work through in being willing to expand into putting my energy into things that will require me to commit. I know other areas of my life are affected by this as well.
For all those of you doing NaNoWriMo this year I wish you the best of luck. I’ll be cheering from the sidelines while working on my own goals. For any writers out there who agree with me that there are better things to do with your busy November than write a whole book, I encourage you to set your own goals for whatever you think would be best for your writing. Maybe you’re not much of a poet so you think writing a short poem everyday might help you expand better. Maybe you just need to read more so reading a few pages everyday. Maybe you have a terrible vocabulary and so you have a goal to learn a new word everyday. Whatever it is, set goals, write and do what you love.
Any NaNoWriMo writers out there offended by my post? I apologize if so. I really do admire you guys so don’t take it too personally. One of my close friends wrote an awesome book a few years ago, and I have always admired her. So, what are your books about? What ways are you keeping yourself on the path to novel success? I really would love to hear from you. I like knowing what my readers are up to!