Monday, November 24, 2014

Saying No No to NaNo

It's November, and every year I feel the pressure. No not the pressure of the impending holidays, but the pressure to write. November is National Novel Writing Month, a month where writers try to slam down 50,000 words in 30 days to finish the first draft of a novel. Only problem is, NaNo and I do not get along.
Do I feel the twinge and ache when I see people blasting their word counts on twitter and running sprints? Oh, heck yes! It honestly hurts to know others are writing lots of words, even full novels, when I'll be lucky if I write a few chapters this month. But you know what? It's okay for several reasons.

1. I can't write every day
NaNo relies on the fact that you average about 1700 words per day. That's a lot of words in one day. It's also a lot of time that I unfortunately don't always have. My day job sucks up eight plus hours a day, and when I get home I have to think about planning a wedding, selling two condos, and trying to buy a house. Now that sounds like a lot of excuses, but it's not. It's simply that I know my limits. I have a writing schedule that works for me, and it's not a sit down and write every day kind of schedule. I block off times a few days a week and that's when I write. And that's what works for me.
2. I can't fast draft
I write slow. Plain and simple. I'm lucky if I can have a 1000 word hour. Which means if I had to slam down 1700 words in a day, that would take me 2-3 hours. I do get faster the more I write, but I tend to be a fairly strict plotter. I need time to actually think about what I'm writing as I write it. So fast drafting is a skill I just don't have, but one that is almost a requirement for NaNo.

3. I need time to decompress
My brain often works a ton in the background. I need time in between writing sessions to let that happen. If I write every day, my subconscious doesn't have time to work through those plot issues that are bugging me and seemingly have no solution. For me to keep moving forward, I need space between my writing sessions.
4. I like to edit
I like relatively clean first drafts. I've grown up knowing good grammar, spelling, etc, and my brain is wired not to leave mistakes when I see them because I might miss them later. So I tend to make minor edits as I write. I also like to read my previous work before each writing session. This is a time where I get wrapped back into the story, but also a time I make changes to things that aren't quiet working. It's how I get into the mood of piece again, and how I find my flow. This is all part of my writing process. Neither of these things, though, is conducive for NaNo, an environment where you just have to ignore the mistakes and keep moving forward.

In the end, I know NaNo doesn't fit into my writing style and that's perfectly okay. I have a system and schedule that works for me and I go with it. Again I definitely feel the pain during this time of year, but I've tried NaNo and unfortunately it's just not for me. So if you're one of those people that does NaNo every year and succeeds, I bow to you. If you do NaNo just for the motivation to write and get words, even if it's not 50k, I bow to you as well. And if you're like me and NaNo just doesn't work, I bow to your strength to get words on the page despite the craziness that is writing in November. Whether NaNo works for you or not, just keep writing. We will all have shiny manuscripts one day.

Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

1 comment:

Robert Polk said...

Neither do I participate in nano. I think I'd like to, but like you, I have too many other distractions. Nevertheless, I think about my characters and their stories frequently whether I'm able to write or not. Tonight after I finish this comment, I'm off to write! Happy Thanksgiving!