Is NaNoWriMo for you?
I’m a Young Adult and New Adult author who has been writing for several years and has successfully completed 7 full-length novels—one of which, The Guys Are Props Club, I wrote in 22 days. I share this not to brag or anything like that, but to show I don’t suffer from lack of discipline or inability to write fast. That said . . .
So, yeah, I confess—after three unsuccessful attempts—that NaNoWriMo isn’t for me! Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea, the energy, the camaraderie. The whole concept is fantastic, and I really wish I could get to the finish line, but sadly I’ve finally accepted I can’t—not with the current demands on my schedule, anyway. If you’re anything like me and the points below describe you or your life in any way, maybe NaNoWriMo isn’t right for you either.
1. You can’t force yourself to write when inspiration isn’t there
Do you have to be physically assaulted by your muse to sit in front of the keyboard and write at an intense pace? I write almost every day, muse or not. I just make myself do it, even if the stubborn goddess is on vacation. I don’t normally manage to write more than a thousand words, but I’ve built the habit. However, to be able to write more than 1k words (1,666 words to be precise) on any given day, my muse has to be suited up and on steroids. Sadly, that doesn’t happen at predetermined times—say every November. So unless I’m hyper-inspired during this particular month, it’s a struggle to meet the daily NaNo goal. For me, particularly, this is the #1 impediment.
2. You can’t write every single day
Is there a day of the week when your job makes you a prisoner? Maybe every Friday, you have to go into the office early, do a lunch meeting, then wine and dine with clients after hours; you don’t get home until very late and hit the pillow wishing for a different body. Or maybe every Wednesday you drive your super athlete fourteen-year-old to the pool at 5 A.M. for early swim practice; then, for work, you drive on-site to visit customers, and, at quitting time, you haul butt across town to pick-up your future Olympian from more swim practice. Does this remotely describe one or more of your weekdays? If the answers is yes, then you’re certain to fall behind in your daily goal. Every day you don’t write means you will fall 1,666 words behind. If writing 1,666 words a day is hard, try writing 3,332 or more! With every missed day, the word-gap multiplies, until it becomes impossible to surmount or until your weekend must be sacrificed to reach it.
3. November is a very busy month for you
In your family, are you the personified spirit of the holidays? In other words, do you decorate, shop, cook, host guests, organize cozy evenings around the fire and make everyone sip spiked eggnog? If you do, Thanksgiving WILL cause you to fall behind. And, as explained in #2, falling behind—even just one day—makes things way harder than they already are.
4. Your weekdays are busy, and your weekends are worse
Do you already use weekends to catch up? If, from Monday to Friday, every second of your day is occupied by your job, family, friends, church, volunteering, pets . . . so much that your home and its chores pile up and require a large amount of your attention during the weekend, then you need to think twice before taking on this challenge. If after all the laundry, cooking, picking up leaves in the yard, cleaning, grocery shopping, fixing the broken toilet, etc., you manage to scrounge a few free hours and are willing to use them for writing rather than resting, going to the movies or watching a football game, that time may not be enough to help you catch up, unless you can write a week’s worth of words (11k) in that short time. If you can, I’m jealous. You are my hero!
5. You’ve never written a book, but you know you care much more about quality than quantity
Are you a budding author? If you’ve never written a book before, I will dare say you lack the preparation to put a cohesive full-length story together on your first try. Unless you are the Muse goddess’s chosen son/daughter and are able to spill golden words, cohesive plots, amazing characters, natural dialogue, flawless pacing, etc. etc. etc. without any prior experience, you will have A LOT to learn about the writing process. That in itself will be its own challenge. But, if in top of that, you’re a perfectionist and care greatly about quality, I can assure you that NaNoWriMo will drive you absolutely bunkers. As you furiously type to get your daily word count, you’ll constantly want to go back and spellcheck, tweak, rephrase or outright rewrite. With NaNo’s tight deadline, if you fall prey to rewriting, you are sure to miss your daily goal.
My intention isn’t to discourage anyone. As with anything, it is a good idea to try for ourselves to find our own limitations, but it is always smart to go in with a good set of expectations. If one or more of the points above sound familiar, don’t be surprise if NaNoWriMo proves impossible for you. And if you fail, don’t worry. There are 11 more months in the year. If you really want to write, you need to do it all year round. No use in getting stressed or burned out during one short month
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