NaNoThankYou

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On this day, December 1st, thousands of writers across the globe are mopping their brows, nursing their keyboard-burnt fingers, and collapsing into piles of first draft pages. That’s right – NaNoWriMo is complete. Three cheers to all those who faced the challenge!

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to write as close to 50,000 words as you can between November 1st and 30th.

I personally didn’t participate, but I got asked a lot if I was, so I thought I’d write a post explaining why. This isn’t to knock the NaNo’ers, just to provide my own perspective.

NaNoWriMo is about two things, and two things only: speed and word count. How fast and how much can you produce? These two things are not the most valuable aspects of writing to me, and fixating on them kills a lot of what I find more important.

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Telling a story, for me, is as much about the experience as the result. I write to get to know characters, immerse myself in a world. I write for the fun of brainstorming, the satisfaction of mining a great phrase. I’m sure other authors feel that way too, the other 11 months out of the year. But for me, 50,000 rushed words aren’t likely to be words I’ll care about, so there’s little point in my mind. If I’m starting a brand-new story (which a lot of people do for NaNo), I want to give it the freedom to evolve and discover itself. I can’t do that if I’m race-race-racing to the finish.

I’m not knocking NaNo for others! The motivations behind it makes sense. It probably works wonders for people who tend to halt themselves with perfectionism or procrastination. Those who are intimidated by the time required to pen a novel can get themselves over the hump by pushing the first draft out of the way fast. And for others maybe it’s just fun to challenge themselves in this (forgive the pun) novel way. πŸ˜›

All good reasons. It’s just simply NaNotForMe.

Tell me, did you participate? What are your feelings on the practice?

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18 thoughts on “NaNoThankYou

  1. I (unofficially) did it last year to write a MG novel. My goal was not 50,000 words but a rough draft. It kicked the daylights outta me and most of what I produced got tossed out. (I ended up producing a more a more serviceable draft early in 2015.) Long story short, I hear where you’re coming from.

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  2. I had no idea what NaNoWriMo was until this year but after a brief, fanciful moment some time in deepest October where I said to my brain “1600ish words a day…pfft…how hard can it be?” I came to my senses and realised this is completely and utterly not for me. Like you, I have respect for those who give it a shot but I’m a fully paid up supporter of the Douglas Adams School of Deadlines and their Associated Whooshing Noises. I have ambitions to write novels but I think this kind of pressure, particularly when I’m juggling work, kids, running, procrastination and advanced chocolate eating would send me into a tailspin πŸ™‚

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    • Hahaha. I love that Douglas Adams quote too. Apparently he would invent excursions he simply HAD to go on which would deliberately interfere with his deadlines. One was I believe an African safari to research endangered rhinos? Something like that. I read about it in his postmortem publication of essays, “Salmon of Doubt.” Maybe it was a joke but seems like something he’d do! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll join you in NaNoHeresy. I tried it last year and was very gung-ho, but it was not a good experience for me. Here’s my blog post about it. http://ellenseltz.com/finding-the-pony/
    I don’t know that my first draft would have been better or worse if I’d gone at a more organic pace, but in terms of my production schedule, I am WAY, WAY behind where I would have been without it. Writing is all about overcoming resistance. For some people, challenges like NaNo help them overcome resistance and get the writing done. For me, it created so much pressure — and such an unintelligible pile of nonsense words — that there was far more resistance. I didn’t just hate my draft, I hated writing for a long time afterwards.
    For me, the whole exercise was counterproductive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES, YES, AND YES to your post. This list here is exactly like me in every way:
      “The β€œfast draft” approach is antithetical to my normal creative process.
      My right-brain and left-brain are collaborators, not enemies.
      Trying to circumvent my β€œinner editor” is like trying to climb a rope one-handed.
      Forcing myself to write faster than I can think, is the slowest way for me to produce a book.”

      I have to say it again. YES, YES, AND YES.

      And your comment about it creating resistance instead of overcoming it was such a great point, very insightful. I’m sorry your experience turned out so badly. 😦

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  4. So this year was the first year that I participated fully in NaNo. I had mixed feelings go into it, and I have mixed feelings coming out of it. I like the very basic idea of “Don’t edit, just write”. I like this because I, as a writer, have a very bad habit of getting a third of the way through something and then going back and editing something as I think of a new way that my story can be written, and then I get bogged down by ideas.

    This has left me with about thirty unfinished works, no joke.

    I liked that the idea of NaNo was to get past that and to write daily. I liked that there is a supportive local community that will cheer you on and help you with getting unstuck. I do not like how much pressure is put on the writer to get to a specific word count. I honestly felt like my story was done around 36k. I felt like pushing out more than that was just…asking for trouble. Instead of continuing that work, however, I worked on something else so that I did reach the 50k goal.

    So….even after participation…I still don’t’ know what I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean about “don’t edit, just write,” which is generally a good practice to have. I still like to edit a bit as I go, so I try to follow the adage “Don’t edit TOO MUCH” instead. πŸ™‚ I know it can be easy to get bogged down. So I agree that there are good sides to NaNo, that being one of them. I think people have different kinds of brains, and some brains thrive on a fast pace, while others (like mine) get frazzled by it. Some people are freed when they “don’t think,” but I’m actually propelled by my thinking, not stopped by it. I need that time to think.

      Overall, are you glad you did NaNo? Do you think you’ll do it again?

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      • Oh I totally get the frazzled-feel. I honestly am feeling that way right around now. I feel a little drained, rushed, and literarily hung-over.
        Honestly? I don’t know that I’ll be doing it again. I like some of the things that it taught me and I’m happy that I did it at least once, but I don’t think it is for me.

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  5. I was really determined to do Nanowrimo, but had so much trouble just getting started- I procrastinated all day (my general life strategy) and then like you mentioned in your post felt like I HAD to write, even though I just wasn’t able to think of anything.. Overall it kind of felt like a stressful waste of a day, so I’m with you on it just not working for me! At least not this year!

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  6. I totally get this, and I agree that NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone.
    I will say, though, that my experience was a good one. I did it ages ago, as a freshman in college, and was really proud of myself for seeing it through. Up until that point, I had only ever started stories/novels, and never finished them, so NaNo helped me to jump past that hurdle. I also strategized to make the process easier: I chose to write a comedic memoir about my time in high school (I never get bored of talking about myself), and I planned a lot ahead of time.
    The end result is a silly book I would never publish, but I have repurposed parts of it into other projects. I thought it was a great exercise simply because it built up my confidence for the future.
    I would never do it now, though, for the reasons you listed above.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I did NaNo for the first time this year, and did complete it. I wrote a post about it yesterday. I had mixed feelings about it going in and still do, but ultimately, it was a good thing for me. I have a complete story now that I never would have accomplished without that forced writing time. Now, I can go back and do that wonderful word mining and deeper character development and all that good stuff that makes writing great. But without that imposed deadline of NaNo, I’d be far away from having finished another novel. I’m not sure I’ll do NaNo again, but I am learning to appreciate the value of sitting down and writing whether I feel like it or not. My post: https://anewlowe.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/a-knife-to-the-muses-throat-my-nano-win/

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome that it was so helpful for you! Congrats on completing the challenge. πŸ™‚ Regular writing has definitely helped me too. I don’t write *every* day, but I’ve got a routine which keeps my brain in a creative place.

      Liked by 1 person

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