NaNoWriMo: The Competition, The Myth, The Legend

Posted: October 24, 2013 in 90-Day Novel

If you’re at all in touch with the writing community you’ve probably already been bombarded by posts about NaNoWriMo. People have been gearing up for the whole of October. This makes sense for several reasons. First, because now is the time to plot your novel if you plan on participating with a plan, so people are talking about that. Second, because the newly refurbished website went live and if you’ve ever participated before you’ve gotten plenty of e-mails documenting the new wonderfulness. It really is very pretty now. I approve of the upgrade. Third, because other people are talking about it. Maybe that was covered in the first reason? In any case, November is an exciting month for writers. Thousands upon thousands of people all striving towards a similar goal. I participated in the smaller scale CampNaNo this summer. It was hard, it was grueling, it was a lot of fun, and yes, I did write 50,000 words.

Now it’s November and it’s not an easy month to swing a novel. There’s the obvious blockades such as Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a big holiday in my family that requires the whole weekend to recuperate from. This could be in part because I juggle between two families worth of dinners but I think mainly it’s because I like to eat and hang out with people and the process is just exhausting. Being in the interpreting field presents a second roadblock in the form of my state’s conference. It’s the big one. Three days of workshops geared to improve skills and knowledge. That’s also a whole weekend that leaves me just burned out. Thirdly, it’s a busy time for after school activities at my job, which means I don’t typically arrive home on time half of the work week. November is a complete turd of a month to try to accomplish writing during. At least for me.

This doesn’t dissuade me from wanting to participate anyways. It’s so much fun to attend write-ins at local libraries, check stats online, and hear about other people’s trials, tribulations, and triumphs.

It just isn’t the most ideal time.

It was mentioned in another blog that there are many reasons for and against signing up for NaNoWriMo. And from my own experience I can say it’s a wonderful motivator and a fantastic challenge… but the draft I finished in July was no where near anything I could properly edit into something useable. I essentially have 50,000 words of a story that is so far away from being anything shareable that I’ll probably need another rewrite before I’ll even consider it. This is on a story that’s been percolating in my brain for over a year. It also left my brain so overwhelmed and burned out I wrote very little of anything the following month.

So, with all these things and more on my mind I’m thinking I will probably still participate in NaNoWriMo, but as something of a rebel. I’ll still sign up, try to attend a write-in or two, but this year I’m doing it all by hand. I’m not going to worry about word count, I’m going to worry about my ability to put writing first for the whole month. It’s actually an added bonus to what I’ve been working on the last few months, because I’ve been doing the 90-Day Novel. Granted, I started that journey probably 90 days ago and I’m no where near the end of the workshop. This is not to say the 90-Day Novel is complete bunk. I just haven’t written every day. But I have kept track of my writing in a day to day form. I’ve spent a grand total of almost 30 days working on the 90-Day Novel. This is perfect to coincide with NaNoWriMo as on day 30 I’m supposed to start drafting the story itself. I figure with the time I have available to me it is possible to embark on the first day of drafting my novel on the first of November.

Like I said, I won’t be typing. I won’t even be looking at word count. Instead I’ll just tell myself it’s important to write every day to the best of my abilities. At the end of the month I probably won’t have nearly the word count needed for a victory, but I can use the excitement as a launching pad to propel me through the holidays of December and get the first draft finished. When I’m done with the draft I’ll type it up and because every day I write will be dated I can see just how much was accomplished during a single month.

It’s not nearly as frantic, but I think it’s what I need.


  1. Cat Lumb says:

    This is a great way to harness the positivity and support that comes with NaNoWriMo whilst also making it meaniful to you. Good luck with it and I hope you update us on how it’s working over the next month or so.

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