NaNoWriMo: To Do or Not to Do

I’ve been wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for a few years now, but it’s just never worked out. Two years ago, I was working full time and spending around three hours in the car commuting every day. Last year, I was doing the same, but with the addition of grad school. This year, I actually have the time, since the only thing I have going on at the moment is grad school. Which has made me realize: time isn’t really the issue. It’s just an excuse.

NaNoWriMo scares me. Not because of the amount of work; if I can write a twenty-page research paper in two days, I can write 50,000 words in a month. The truth is, I’ve been attempting to write a novel for the last ten or so years.Do you know how many I’ve finished? Zero. I have written giphyhundreds of beginnings in probably almost every genre imaginable. I have plotted out worlds and created characters. I’ve thought up murder mysteries and fantastical kingdoms ruled by fairies or evil witches. But I haven’t written more than a few chapters of any of them. I don’t know if I’m too self-critical or if I just haven’t found a great idea yet. But either way, it’s hard to imagine myself actually tumblr_inline_nmlj6p7EwH1qhckdk_500finishing a book. However, in this instance, NaNoWriMo might actually help me. I’d be accountable for a certain number of words, and I wouldn’t have the type to hyper edit the first chapters before moving on. I’d be forced to actually sit and write for thirty days. And starting over or drastically changing my story wouldn’t be an option, so I’d have to just keep going. Which means I might actually finish something.

Just one problem: that would require an idea. Now, I have a few. I’ve even outlined almost an entire novel for the publishing class I took a few months ago. But I feel like I’d need to be really excited about an idea to get me through an entire novel of it. So choosing the right one is a bit daunting. Although, at this point, I feel like I just need to get a novel out of my system, no matter how much it sucks. So I could just pick one at random and start writing. Which makes my OCD mind cringe, but it might be doable.

I’m still debating (though I don’t really have much time left). Part of me just wants to let another NaNoWriMo pass and write a novel on my own terms. But I also kind of want to give it a shot. Who knows? Maybe being forced to write 50,000 words in a month is the push I need to actually finish something.

Have you done NaNoWriMo? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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6 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: To Do or Not to Do

  1. Ugh, it’s as if I wrote this post. I’ve actually never done nano. Only really heard about it last year but it was too late to participate. So I am doing it this year. I am done with grad school and I am on a “hopefully” very long sabbatical. You gotta go for it. 10 years is a long time to want to do something. I know, because that’s how long I’ve been trying to do it too.

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  2. Do it!

    2011: I didn’t get much done at all.

    2012: I finished and published!

    2013: I had too much other stuff going on, only got 10,000 words in.

    2014: I finished with 50,000 words of garbage! I may go back to it one day, but I doubt it.

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  3. Do it! Even if you don’t hit 50,000 you’ll still have written more words than you had at the start of November. I read this article this morning that states some very good reasons as to why people should do NaNoWriMo – it made me want to do it this year as well, but I really do have no time (and no solid idea!!). You can check out the article here: http://www.thingsmadefromletters.com/2015/10/15/why-would-an-otherwise-sane-person-become-a-wrimo-jack-heath-on-nanowrimo/

    I first did it in 2012 and I made it to 50,000 but what I wrote wasn’t that amazing (probably worth a revisit actually), but I felt a real sense of achievement when I hit the end.
    2013 I got to about 8000 and then life got in the way.

    I participated last year and wrote something that I’m really proud of. I had what I thought was a great idea before I started writing this one and it made me excited to write it. The whole thing basically wrote itself and it was fun to see how the story unfolded. Unfortunately I’ve not had a lot of time to go through and properly edit it and do some rewriting, but I’ve had some people read it and they really enjoyed it.

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  4. My first year doing NaNo (2007), I was struggling to find the motivation to finish the 5th & final story in a series of novella-length stories I had written. I was stuck on the build-up to the climax and really just wanted to move on to a new story. I heard about NaNo a few weeks before it started, signed up, and let the motivation carry me through the end of the one story and through 3/4 of the next one. It was a HUGE help.

    In the years since then, I’ve written some things I’m not thrilled with and 2 novels that I hope to polish into something publishable.

    Of course there’s nothing say that what works for some people will work for you, but you won’t know until you try it!

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