Why I say no to NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a non-profit organization that provides a community for novelists or wannabe novelists. Or, as their website says: a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” The goal is to finish a 50,000-word novel within the month of November.

I will not be doing NaNoWriMo this year, nor will I do it any year. Let me tell you why.

First, I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the benefits of NaNoWriMo. They offer inspiration, encouragement, and awards. Winners (writers who successfully crank out 50k words) have a chance to win prizes, like a Scrivener discount. Many areas offer live support groups where NaNo writers meet face-to-face! Sounds great, right?

So why do I say no to NaNoWriMo?

Is it because by month’s end I’m afraid I’ll face 50,000 brain-vomit words that will need to revised and/or rewritten for months to come? Is it because I don’t believe forced creativity could ever produce anything worthwhile?

No. If either of these were true, I wouldn’t be a writer in the first place. Any good writer knows the first draft is always crap anyway, regardless of how quickly it appears on the page. If I didn’t believe in “forced creativity,” I would not have a single novel complete.

I’m a big fan of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, which encourages writers to “get the bones down…and fix it later.” Even if you get stuck, you need to push forward or you’ll never see the end.

But once you have a draft, you are not nearly done. Perhaps there should be a NaNo-REV-Mo to help writers revise all those crappy NaNoWriMo first drafts?

But I digress.

The real reason I say no to NaNoWriMo is about logistics. Honestly, what alliteration-loving chump chose NOVEMBER to be the national month to write an entire freaking novel? Isn’t that month jam packed enough?

Here are 7 reasons why I say no to NaNoWriMo:

  1. I’m *just now* adjusted to my 3 kids’ varying routines in school / extracurriculars. Kind of. It took nearly 2 months and my calendar’s still a mess.
  2. Speaking of calendars. November is not a full school month. My kids are off for Veterans Day. For some reason they have an early-release day and a delayed-start day the week prior. They have 4 half days leading up to Thanksgiving break. Not to mention Thanksgiving break…adding up to a whole lotta hours the kids will be home and needing mommy.
  3. I have a candy hangover from Halloween. Actually, my children do, which is worse. Three sugared-up boys are crawling over my head as I type this.
  4. Hello? Thanksgiving? This year, we’re off to visit relatives for merry-making. Time for family fun, not writing. I’m not hosting, but I’m contributing to the effort. Am I the only one making pies and sweet potato mash and those asparagus-procuitto-appetizer thingys that should have a name?
  5. Speaking of holidays. How many shopping days left until Christmas? I don’t know what happens in your house, but in mine, the shopping falls under my list of responsibilities. And — decorations! Taking down harvest pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns, putting up and trimming the tree. Walter, our Elf on a Shelf, makes his first appearance the day after Thanksgiving. That’s in November, too.
  6. Daylight savings time. Fall back an hour. What’s that you say? We’re gaining an hour? Not in my house. Nothing like messing with the clocks to ensure no child has a decent night’s sleep. Bonus: sending your fourth-grader to the bus stop in the dark. Good stuff.
  7. 30 days. Seriously? NaNo powers that be, why not choose a month with 31 days? Come on, give us a little leeway here. Give us struggling novelists another day. Could you imagine what we could accomplish with another 24 hours?

I have a solution. JANUARY! Roll it in with the New Year’s resolutions. Maybe this is one we can keep. Hibernate with your laptop while the endless snow falls here in the North Country. Bonus: an extra day.

9 comments

  1. Hilariously put and well said!!! January is def a better month! Any parent can relate, especially a parent w/3 boys!!!

    1. I think the important thing for us writers to remember is to keep writing when you can, forgive yourself if life pulls you in a different direction, but always have your story in mind. Good luck to you!

  2. I participate in nanowrimo but I agree it’s a shitty month to belch out a novel. February or March would be much better choices time wise. I love the comradere and sometimes the distraction of just sitting down and writing until my hands fall off. Knowing I basically need to complete at least half a story before thanksgiving really wakes up my creative juices. Meanwhile my house cleaning gos to hell. My stress gos through the roof. Come December I can really veg out with my family forget about all thing novel related and enjoy the season with little to no stress.

    1. Good for you for finding a way to make it work for you. I agree, sometimes we need that push to wake up our creative juices. Here’s to a stress-free month full of productivity! Good luck to you.

  3. Pingback: No NaNoWriMo

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