NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – is a great thing. It motivates people to write that great novel they have inside of them, the one they otherwise never can find the time (or lack of excuses) to write. It gets people writing who might otherwise never do it. Some people even get books published – award-winning books. (So I’ve heard.)
It’s a great event for people who can write fast, plot in their head (or in advance) and follow their outline – or who can write extremely well by the seat of their pants. Plotters and pantsters unite for NaNoWriMo.
It gets people to set, and passionately pursue, lofty goals: to get That Novel done. And many do. 50,000 words in 30 days. Almost 1,700 words per day. It’s massive, and it’s amazing that people do it.
And in a month usually beset with rain, clouds, cold, and generally better-to-be-indoors weather, it’s an ideal activity.
There’s a lot to love about it.
But I don’t do it. Here’s why.
One, I work on several projects at once. I draft one novel while editing another, and also work on a play or two. Having multiple projects at once keeps them all fresh and keeps me excited about each one. Focusing on only one turns quickly into drudgery.
Two, I don’t need that sort of motivation. I already write every day. On the few days that my schedule doesn’t permit writing, I get really, really grumpy. Committing to NaNoWriMo and missing a day could make me downright lethal.
Three, and as a result of that, I don’t need, or want, that tight of a window to write in. My process permits, or perhaps requires, a more measured pace. 500 or so words per day is typical for me, 7 days a week. That allows me time to edit other works a little further ahead in the process – and to reflect on what I’ve written as I go. It means the writing I do get done is a lot more polished and requires fewer rewrites later. NaNoWriMo always require extensive rewrites.
Four, I still have to earn money in other ways besides selling books (editing, contract writing, etc.). Carving out that much time to work on one novel would put me very far behind on my cash-earning potential. I long for the day when I can rely solely on book sales to earn my living, but I think the day will come sooner when I rely on Social Security and retirement funds.
So, it’s lovely. I hope a lot of people do it, and produce great works. (And need to hire me to edit them later.) But I’ll stick with what works for me.