Why I Said No To Nano

NaNoWriMo is not for the faint of heart.

I had always heard stories, but finally got a taste of it myself when I participated in CampNaNo this July. Though I only had a goal of 20,000 instead of the standard 50,000, I learned a lot about the process–and myself.

CampNaNo was a great experience. My favorite part was by far the community. I made new connections, and became closer with some I already knew. The support was amazing from my fellow writers, both those participating and those not. I also challenged myself, and I made my goal even though I didn’t think I could.

So, if CampNaNo was great, why didn’t I join NaNoWriMo this year?

I’ve been telling people that November is too busy in the semester for me to possibly do it. Which is true, but it is not my only reason for not participating.

While CampNaNo was a great experience, and I learned about myself, I also learned that I do not work well in that setting. Yes, I met my goal, and yes I got the words out, but it was painful. And when they were out, they were awful. Those awful words sent me into a battle with my writing, that lasted three months after CampNaNo. After writing 20,000 words in one month, it took me three months to write the next 20,000. Not only was I burnt out, but I lost my way, and struggled because I didn’t know how to fix what I had written, or where to go from there.

I love the concept of NaNoWriMo. I love the community and the challenge. But even if it is possible to do it, should you? I learned that yes, it was possible for me to do–but maybe I shouldn’t, because in the long run, it hurt my writing more than it helped me.

NaNoWriMo is awesome, and I’m cheering on all of you crazy brave enough to do it this year. But just know that it’s not for everyone, and it’s okay if it’s not right for you. That doesn’t mean you’re chicken, or any less of a writer than people who do NaNo.

Some people can churn out 5k+ words a day, and write for hours on end. Not all of us are like that. If you’re like me, you can go days without writing, then write two chapters all at once. Or write a few days in a row, but only get a couple paragraphs down. You might not have the luxury of being able to write for hours a day in order to meet that word count, or maybe you just don’t want to. Maybe that’s not how you work as a writer, and that’s okay.

If you’re participating in NaNo, you should get a medal. But if you’re not, be proud of your choice. We Non-Nanos have to stick together, and cheer our friends who are running  the NaNo marathon on. Because at the end of the day, NaNo or not, we’re all writers, and we’re all on the same team.

Good luck, and keep writing!

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10 thoughts on “Why I Said No To Nano

  1. I’m participating in NaNo this year, as I did last, and I’ve got to say I agree with you. It’s not for everyone. For me, it was the thing that kicked me into gear with my writing. It showed me I can do it. I got the 50,000 words last November, and I’m hoping for the same this year. I find that the motivation it gives me is brilliant and what I need a lot of the time. But not everyone does.

    We’re all different. That’s what makes the world go around, right?

    As long as we get the words out, as you say. 🙂

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  2. The best part is that you can still be part of the community without actually participating. You can still learn a lot while writing at your own pace in your own time.

    Personally, I think I work better with the 30 day deadline. I try to pretend every month is a NaNo month. It only works during April, July, and November though because I don’t have the support system all the other months.

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  3. I totally understand where you are coming from. I feel like I had a lot of the same issues you did, and I’m in the process of pretty much rewriting everything I wrote during July. I’m glad it got me into a better routine, but it’s taken me a lot of work to figure out how to fix it.

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  4. I think I may have to jump ship next year because last year was my first year and the wreckage that resulted has yet to get fixed, and so now, my second year, on the same story, I’m just adding fuel to the fire – more droll to spruce up in the future.

    I’m a pretty big believer in the thought that you should always strive to just get the first draft out and then you can improve on it from there, but the quality of the writing produced by NaNoWriMo isn’t always tip top shape.

    But, meh, everyone’s different, like you mentioned. :]

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  5. I signed up for Nano but didn’t do it. I can’t commit to writing everyday even though I want to. I mean, I’m working a new full-time job and going to school. Granted school is done for this semester, but I’m SO tired from working the week that all I want to do is relax on the weekend. Now, i’ve been offered to write a book for someone and be a personal assistant to another. It’s tough, but I gotta make my money lol. Glad you are doing well. Miss ya !

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  6. Every writer has to follow his or her own path. I know this, yet I feel vindication and relief to read that you choose not to do NaNoWriMo for specific, cogent reasons. I keep saying I’m going to do it and for me it might work. I sort of tried one year. I did not sign up or type anything into my computer. I just opened my spiral notebook, grabbed a pen and started, mostly writing while at work (it was that kind of a job). The reason I am not doing it this year is that I have 300+ pages written on a novel I am determined to finish and I do not want to put it aside for 30 days. Wow, what a long comment. I should be putting all this writing energy into that novel or my own blog. Silly me.

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  7. I totally agree, Victoria.

    This year, I *could* do NaNoWriMo (meaning, meet the 50K goal), but I’m not going to try. I have to edit this novel, and that takes some thought. I also want to work on my next WIP, and I don’t want to rush it along. I’m so glad I managed to finish my first novel, but it came at a cost. It’s ugly. Lots of stuff needs to be cut or added in. Nothing is really well thought-out, because I was writing at 3 AM.

    This year, I am technically participating, because I created a novel, and I’m updating my word count, but I don’t aim to win. I’m really only participating to cheer some of my writing buddies on, and offer advice to first-time WriMos. I really love the concept, like you said, but with this one, I want to take it slow. And I’ve discovered as I’ve ventured further into my writing career that writing… let’s say “poop,” to keep this all-ages friendly… is not acceptable. It’s just so hard to edit later. Plus, November is right before the holidays, and I don’t know who picked that month, or for what reason. We have finals and everybody’s stressed out and trying to keep up their good grades. As I become older, I need to focus on the things that will determine my life–my grades, being there for my friends when they need me, and extracurriculars–because I want to go into science, not into writing. I mean, writing will always be a hobby, but I don’t think it deserves the amount of time NaNoWriMo demands, at least for me, if I’m prioritizing at my current stage in life.

    Thanks for another great post! (Sorry for the long comment, by the way! I started talking and couldn’t stop! 😀 )

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