NaNoWriMo Might Not Work For Everyone, But Here’s Why It Works For Me

I love NaNoWriMo. Here in Virginia, the weather is getting cold and rainy — soup weather — so being inside feels good. We’re past the business of the back-to-school season (even for those not in school or raising students), but it’s still autumn enough to have that ‘back-to-school- feeling that you should be starting on something.

In other words, the perfect time to curl up with some hot cider and a laptop, and tell yourself a story.

Now, I know that National Novel Writing Month isn’t for everyone.

11 Reasons Why NaNoWriMo Might Not Be For You

  1. November is a bad time of the year for you
  2. You already write more than that regularly
  3. You can’t write that fast
  4. 50,000 words in a month is much faster than your best-quality pace
  5. You find a slower pace makes for a better draft
  6. You don’t write full length manuscripts — you do short stories or picture books
  7. You’re in the middle of an editing cycle
  8. You don’t have a story idea
  9. The feeling of being obligated or pledged to write shuts down your creative juices
  10. You’d rather write privately, without the public spectacle of it
  11. Or… you just don’t feel like it

And that’s fine! Not everyone has to do NaNoWriMo.

A side note: I know some people think NaNoWriMo writers are… well …. trash. Some NaNoWriMo writers finish their rough drafts, do a spellcheck and grammar pass, and immediately start querying it, and thus have given some the impression that ALL NaNoWriMo writers can’t edit and are flooding the agents and publishers. While there is a small percentage it’s true for, the majority of NaNoWriMo writers believe in the power of beta-readers, revisions, and taking their time getting their manuscripts to publication.

So, for those, like me, who enjoy NaNoWriMo, I hope many of you will find these reasons resonate with you. Here are:

The Multitudes of Reasons Why NaNoWriMo Works For Me

  1. Accountability – Others I know are watching and counting with me
  2. Momentum – I am completely momentum driven. If I can get 5 days under my belt, I’ve yet to not make it to the end of the month. Plus, now that I’ve proven to myself I *can* do it, I find I can’t make as many excuses.
  3. The set goal – For Camp NaNo, I find myself adjusting goals and making excuses. In November, you can’t change the goal. I mean, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been a NaNo rebel before — with a bunch of short stories or editing. Being a rebel is just as traditional.
  4. Community – Writing can be lonely, but for this month, you can find write-ins (live or virtual) nearly every day, especially in my very active NaNoWriMo region. You get to hear about other people’s stories, research questions, and plot bunnies.
  5. The gorgeous charts! – I love seeing my stats and my pacing.
  6. Logging wordcounts – The ability to edit the day’s total if you forget to update the website — or you finish after midnight, but before bed. Not to name any *coughMorgancough* names.
  7. Minimal Dayjob distractions – At work, our big deadline just wrapped, so I’ve got a couple months before the next crunch time. Plus, I know, for many of my friends, the end of the fiscal year frees up time for them.
  8. Not hosting Thanksgiving – I’m not prepping my house and cooking a big meal for a large family.
  9. Lenient on Chores – I can let cooking and cleaning slide for most of the month. I won’t end up in a state of squalor, but there will be some recovery needed at the end.
  10. I’m a novelist — well, mostly. So NaNoWriMo gets me 200 pages into my next book. There was that aforementioned NaNo I did a collection of unrelated short stories. At least one of which I’ve polished and started submitting to publishers.

I definitely wasn’t a pro the first time I tried it. It took me 3 NaNoWriMo attempts, years apart, before I won. Three times all trying to write the same story. But, including that first win, I’ve “won” NaNoWriMo 6 out of the last 7 years

That one year? I was separated from my now-ex-husband, had just started my first new job since I was a fresh-faced college hire, attended a con 3 states away, hosted Thanksgiving for 17, and moved out with the help of my friends 2 days after Thanksgiving. I knew better than to try, that year. That doesn’t mean I’ve loved everything I’ve written. More intentional outlines might make for cleaner drafts, but I’ve learned a lot, and as the saying goes, you can’t edit a blank page.


Have you ever tried NaNoWriMo? Did it work for you?
If you haven’t, what’s holding you back?

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