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Why I won't do Nanowrimo

For those not familiar, Nanowrimo is the month writers, all across the world, decide to get their proverbial arses in gear and write the darn novel. The idea is to churn out 50,000 words by November 30th, starting on November 1st. That's around 1666 words per day. If a writer wants to take the weekend off, they can up that to around 2.5k a day, and they'll come in around target.

Each November, I get asked if I'm going to do it. This year, I've been asked by at least four people in various places. And, let's be honest - I'm a logical target. I write quickly (2.5k a day is well within my comfort zone when I'm on form), and I'm just about to embark on a new project. Why on Earth wouldn't I want to put my head down, join in with others, and bang out that novel.

I don't do it. I won't do it. I hate the idea of doing it.

I totally get and understand why other writers enjoy it. For anyone stuck in a rut and needing incentive to write, it can be a great tool - there is a sense of community with it, and you get nice shiny on-line trophies for meeting milestones. Others do it as part of their writing calendar, clearing the month of November, churning it out, and then spending the rest of the year honing that piece of work. Still others use it as the first means of actually getting out those words for the first time. I think that's great - but I also think it's okay not to want to do it.

So, why don't I do Nanowrimo? Why does the very thought of it make me want to weep. I'll get the easy one off the table. Creatively, for me, the process does not work.

Now, I'm familiar with the concept that first drafts stink. Every single one of mine has. I don't mind that. But I truly wallow through first drafts. I struggle with characterisation, with plotting, with description. I have to stop regularly and plan where I'm going next. I'm already under pressure to complete, when starting with a blank page. If I did Nano, I'm reasonably sure the 50k words would be pure and utter crap that would be barely worth honing into anything, so much would I have grown to hate the story.

That's the easy part. We all work in different ways and most writers find it easy to accept each other's weird way of working.

The harder answer is that I don't Nano because it would give me too much pressure.

I work with deadlines all the time. I have targets to meet, work deadlines, writing deadlines etc. I do deadlines.

But not every day for a month. Because, make no mistake, once I decided to write 50k words I would not allow myself to fail. Mentally, I'm not built that way. If I got sick and had to take a few days off, I wouldn't decide that 35k was, actually, okay to achieve. If life got in the way of the writing, I'd steal some more life to catch things up.

Some of my writer friends are okay with the concept of not getting to 50k words, but just moving the piece of work on a bit. If I could be like this, I'd find the impetus of Nano fantastic. Others will do it, but not log for their trophies etc and that's fine to. But not me. I could not downsize the expectations and still feel like I was doing it. Rules are rules... 

This is a personality thing, of course. I'm a driven person, once I set my mind to something. But it doesn't always do me good. It puts me under pressure, makes me stressed and anxious (in fact, why have Nano in November when it's one of the worst months for anyone sensitive to the light falling?), and gets in the way of my quality of life. No novel is worth that. It's especially not worth it for an artificial goal.

And that's the final reason I don't like Nano. If I want to write, I write. I don't want to feel that I have to write to achieve a shiny trophy and goal. My shiny goal is the novel that comes out at the end, or the short story, or the one person who contacts me to say they like what I've written. I hate the idea of being told I should write a novel in November, because someone, somewhere started an event each year. Call me contrary, or grumpy, or foggy-mindedly confusing. But that's where I sit with imposed deadlines.

So, no, I won't be doing Nanowrimo. I will be writing, and hopefully lots of words will appear. But so too will I be plotting, and taking time out time, and working time. Because, for me, that's where my sanity lies.

Good luck to all those who do Nano! And good luck to all those who don't - for whatever reason.


Anya Kimlin said…
You're just the writing version of a Jehovah's Witness ;)
wonderactivist said…
I'm the same way. I don't Nano but have so much respect for those who do
Unknown said…
Yep, I have total respect for those brave souls who tackle it. :)

Anya - I snorted