Here’s The Thing: I Don’t Like #NaNoWriMo (And That’s Okay)

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I don’t like NaNoWriMo for me. Just for me.

I think it’s awesome and works super-well for lots of other writers for tons of other reasons, but some people might in the same boat I’m in so I felt like I ought to write up a post about it.

(My first opinionated blog post in…months. Wow, where’d I disappear to?)

Okay, so National Novel Writing Month for me is kind of like pitch contests. If a pitch contest pops up, it doesn’t matter if I have nothing done or if all of the agents represent humorous nonfiction instead of scifi/fantasy, there’s part of me that wants to jump in. Submit. Be involved. Tap into that collective emotion of writers striving and hoping together.

I do the same thing with NaNoWriMo. Every. Damn. Year.

I tell myself I’m not interested, I’m not signing up, and then the buzz starts to build. People start logging in, creating their profiles, talking about their outlines or lackthereof, tagging each other with excitement and anticipation. And because I love writers and I love this community, I get swept up in it. I want to be a part of it, to fill that thrill of togetherness, and I forget NaNos past. I tell myself it’s all good, that I know I can draft 1667 words a day. Hell, I NaNo-ed mid-August to mid-September to finish my scifi project. No sweat, right?

Except…every November I rediscover that I’m not the type of writer who thrives in NaNoWriMo.

The daily updates; the trade and comparison of word counts; the drive to get there… It doesn’t inspire me. It doesn’t give me a lasting jump-start. It doesn’t help me keep my head down and draft harder. I wish it did because I want so badly to mix it up with the other NaNo warriors, but I usually get one or two days in and then just…balk.

I’m a contrary person, really. If you tell me I ought to do something, it suddenly becomes the least desirable thing on the planet. It’s hardly a unique quality; a lot of people hate being told what to do. But I often feel like NaNoWriMo is just that – some Vague Authority on High telling me what to do. It doesn’t matter that I know it’s not. It feels that way.

As soon as I came to this realization yesterday, I wish I had remembered before November 1st how incompatible my writing personality is with this task. Because now my negative feelings for NaNoWriMo are all tied up and intermixed with my feelings about my current project, so I have to set the whole tangle aside and give it space to breathe. To see if it’s got a life of its own still, outside of my conflicted relationship with this month.

I love NaNoWriMo. I love how first-timers and veterans alike can use it to get over that hump and get a draft down. But if there’s one thing I always have – and always will – advocate, it’s that every writer’s style is different. Drafting style, revising style, publishing style – we can only do what works for us, and we should never feel bad about that.

Me, for example – I’ll be letting go of my NaNo profile tomorrow. I will make that choice for me and my current and future stories, and (after a deep breath and some extra coffee) I won’t feel bad about it.

Instead, I will keep cheering for all of you out there – NaNo warrior or not. I will continue to fling spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks and figure out the type of writer I am.

And I will get this blog post title tattooed on my damn arm to help me keep my head next year when the anticipation starts building again.

13 thoughts on “Here’s The Thing: I Don’t Like #NaNoWriMo (And That’s Okay)

  1. I have always thought you were an awesome, amazing person. This solidifies my feelings. Seriously, it isn’t for everyone and you shouldn’t let it interfere with how YOU write. If it’s messing with your head, don’t do it. And no shame in that AT ALL! So take a couple days to breathe and get it out of your system and then jump back on the horse and ride it the way you want to. You’ve got some exciting ideas and I want to see them!!! So, I’ll be cheering you on your goals. πŸ˜€

    Thanks for being you, Becks. *hugs*

  2. So. Much. This. I am exactly the same way, and you’re totally right. It feels exactly like someone telling you to do something, and I balk at that too! SO glad I’m not the only one! *Hugs* We can non-nano together πŸ™‚

  3. I know that NaNo hit me at a perfect time in my life at least twice: when I desperately needed a kick in the pants to start writing original fiction again, and then when I desperately needed to find more of a local writing community. I love it for that, and I will participate as long as I am able because of what it’s done for me and because it works for me.

    And the key words there are “for me.”

    One of the unexpectedly hardest things about writing is discovering your own personal style for the whole writing process. You know finishing’s going to be hard, and editing, and querying, and steeling yourself for rejection, but we so rarely hear about how difficult it can be to find your writing style. And I think this quote:

    “But if there’s one thing I always have – and always will – advocate, it’s that every writer’s style is different. Drafting style, revising style, publishing style – we can only do what works for us, and we should never feel bad about that.”

    is a very important reminder: You have to find what works for you. Part of that is trying different things to see what clicks. And if something doesn’t? There’s absolutely no shame in that.

    So, to sum up:
    1) If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for you, and that’s okay.
    2) *hugs* You’re awesome and I ❀ your opinionated posts. πŸ™‚

  4. I like to think that NaNo is one of things everyone should attempt (note: attempt, not necessarily finish) at least once, because you can learn so much about your writing through it.

    But it definitely isn’t for everyone. My husband kept attempting it for the past three years before coming to the realization that he’s just not a fiction writer – something I honestly could have told him from the start, just based on what I know of him, but I also knew it was something he had to figure out for himself.

    I’m definitely one of the people that could flip either way with NaNo – it is an intense amount of pressure, and it definitely helped me get to the point where I write beyond the event, and I know I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without NaNoWriMo.

    I don’t see myself doing NaNoWriMo forever – but I am holding out for at least *cough* six years as a Municipal Liaison BECAUSE I WANT THE NANO PEN WITH MY NAME ENGRAVED ON IT, DAMMIT! πŸ˜€

    But the more I participate in NaNo, the more I’m learning that I am a slow drafter. Sure, I can write 10k in a day, but not every day. It’s probably more like once a month or every other month. But I can do slow and steady, and as much as it feels amazing to end NaNo with 50k under my belt in 30 days, I dread the revision. I like savoring the process.

    So, kudos to you for doing what you need to for your writing sanity! Figuring out what works for you and taking the steps to achieve it can be just as scary as trying something completely new without knowing if it will work.

  5. I think NANO my first year made me realize just how stopped up my pipes got when I looked at the numbers…or rather, watched the numbers freeze. πŸ™‚ I saw numbers and also a blank page. When I focused on the numbers, I just couldn’t get words. So I stopped counting. Stopped paying any mind to the numbers and then the words began to flow again…even if it’s always been a trickle. It still unstopped me. The only thing I like about NANO is the cheering! πŸ˜€

  6. I feel the same–well, sort of–except that I’ve never done NaNo because I already knew it wasn’t a match for the style of writing that works for me. I love watching everybody get all excited and I get so much vicarious enjoyment out of seeing people posting their word counts and squeeing all over Twitter, but when it comes to writing . . . I’m just not a social writer, and I don’t work well with imposed limits or structured programs. It actually makes me LESS inclined to go forward, not more. So . . . yes, it’s okay.

  7. Finally another bunch on Non-NaNo-ers!
    I love to write but my work in progress will not progress under stress. πŸ™‚
    Cheers to the atypical writing personalities for we make the world an eclectic mix of awesomesauce.

  8. I totally get you here. I do my own “head down must get it done now now now now now,” which is NaNo, but I do it on my own time. I just got done doing a full book revision over the course of about 3.5 weeks, in fact, so the timeframe lines up. I just can’t do it when it’s “just because.”

  9. I feel the same way, Becca. When I’m inspired to write, I don’t need a deadline or goal in order to write a fair amount. But, when I have a goal, I feel like writing is now a chore, and it zaps out all the freedom and creativity. A lot of writers enjoy a challenge and thrive. I, however, don’t.

    In fact, I’ll probably cover this in a future The YA Publication Project episode. Because you’re right: There are many ways to write and you have to figure out what motivates you as an individual. You don’t have to follow the rules this early on in the writing process — especially if it discourages you!

  10. It’s great that you’ve come to this realization! I’m always an advocate of doing what what works for you! I’ve decided NaNo is exactly what I needed for this project, but I can definitely see how it might not be the best thing for a different one. All the best with your breathing space!

  11. Oh my goodness, yes! I love that you are stubborn contrary just like me. “What’s this? Write a whole book in NOVEMBER? Well Mr. Bossy Pants, maybe I’ll just write my whole book in OCTOBER instead!” I hate being told what to do. My mother will concur on this. πŸ™‚

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