Skip to main content

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.

Comments

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
Joanne Zebedee said…
Yep, I have total respect for those brave souls who tackle it. :)

Anya - I snorted

Popular posts from this blog

A NATURAL HISTORY OF GOBLINS - a guest blog by Teresa Edgerton

Some fantasy writers like to write about elves, others prefer werewolves, vampires, or zombies. I have a penchant for goblins.

In folklore, the word "goblin" has been applied in myriad ways. A goblin might be a mischievous sprite like Puck, a hideous, vengeful ghost, or even a beneficient house spirit such as a brownie. Sometimes it was used as a synonym for fairy, sometimes applied to a separate race: small, ugly, and malicious. I've taken advantage of this ambiguity, and in each series of books I've written where goblins appear, I've reinvented them.

In the second Celydonn series (sequels to The Green Lion Trilogy) they are fuathan, bad fairies if you will. I like writing about fairies. Even the best of them are not nice; they are not benevolent. On occasion they may be extravagently generous. Grateful for small favors, they return them with magnificent gifts and spectacular rewards. But you cannot trust them. Their morality is not our morality, their laws…

Getting hearts racing, an interview with fantasy-romance novelist Suzanne Jackson

Today I'm chatting with Suzanne Jackson, whose debut novel has been picked up by Venus Ascending, a new fantasy/sci-fi romance imprint headed up by Teresa Edgerton. I'm lucky enough to be a critique partner of Sue's, and can confirm that this book is something special with a great, unique world, sumptuous writing, a fantastic female lead, and the so-bad-he's-irresistible Nicholas Jarrett.
So I thought I'd be the first to nab the elusive Suzanne and find out what makes her - and her world - tick.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Firstly, tell us a little about your world, and how you've managed to marry fantasy with romance?


Hi, Jo. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog for my very first interview. I’m thrilled to be able to talk a little bit about my book and characters.
The Beguiler is set in a fantasy world similar in many ways to Georgian England. Many people are superstitious, with goo…

What happens at the John Hewitt Summer School....

...stays at the John Hewitt Summer School. Mostly.

Rarely do I feel daunted when tackling a blog post but for this one I want to both capture the experience - warts (however few) and all - for others thinking of such an experience, and also try to put into words how the week has got me thinking about my writing and reflecting on lots of things. But anyway, nothing ventured etc etc, here goes.

Firstly, why on Earth did this little sff writer pop off to a literary festival for a week - apart from the small matter of the generosity of the John Hewitt Society in granting me a bursary. I could cite lots of things, like that I have a degree in humanties (I do - theatre and english), or that I do, actually, read the odd poem (MacNeice, Longley and Years are favourites as well as, added this week, Jane Yeh), or even that I've written a fairly literary fantasy book ( I have - coming in 2017.) But that's all just part of why I wanted to go. I also struggle to see why genre writing shoul…