Thursday, October 11, 2012

My thoughts on NaNoWriMo

Next month is November, which means it's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). NaNoWriMo has been going on for a decade or more now, and it's proved quite popular. The challenge is to get 50,000 words of a novel written in a month. It doesn't have to be a perfect 50,000 words, the main goal being to get people in a chair and before a keyboard to write, write, write.

I've never taken part, and I'm not likely to.

Why? Because I consider the whole thing kind of silly.

Now, before some NaNoWriMo fanboys get their panties in a bunch and start screaming at me, let me explain a few things. First off, I fully understand the benefits of NaNoWriMo. I get it. I really do. It's another tool, a big tool, in getting folks to write, to get off their tails and to do some work on that novel they've been talking about for years. Or it helps those who are already steady writers to up their daily word count a bit.

And I'm sure there are a dozen or more other benefits to taking part in NaNoWriMo, none that I'm going to go into at the moment because, frankly, I'm not in the mood.

Also, don't mistake my feelings on the matter as any kind of loathing for NaNoWriMo nor for those who take part. If NaNoWriMo is helpful to you, by all means, take part and push your limits.

Me? I don't feel the need.

Maybe it's because I write for a living nowadays. Most months I'm already writing at least 30,000 words, sometimes more, sometimes less. When I'm working on a novel, I probably average about 2,000 words a day. Sometimes I feel like I'd like to be writing more, but honestly, when I stop and think about it, 2,000 words a day is about right for me. For one thing, I do not write every single day, though it's common for me to write five or six days a week. Some days I might only type out 500 words, but other days I'll get out 5,000. It varies.

Then there are months when I hardly write at all. Does that mean I'm not working on my writing? No. Those months, I'm usually working on book covers and/or editing. Sometimes I'm working on formatting, or maybe I'm helping a friend work on their material. A hundred other tasks are possible, all of them somehow related to my writing as my career choice.

I guess I don't feel a need for NaNoWriMo because I already live my life consistently and nearly constantly working on my writing career. While I might only write for an hour on any given day, I'll be spending anywhere from three to twenty hours doing other tasks related to my writing career. Sometimes that means more writing, sometimes not.

For me, NaNoWriMo is silly because I don't have much of a problem getting work done.

That doesn't mean I believe NaNoWriMo is silly for you, or for anyone else. Just for myself. If it helps, it helps. Whatever works, I often say.

But me? No thank you. If I spent the entire month of November hammering out 50,000 words, I would likely not feel productive. If anything, I would likely feel counter-productive. It's likely I'll get out between 20,000 and 50,000 words that month, anyway. But if all I did was focus strictly upon the writing, I'd never get anything else done.

And frankly, there's a lot more to being a writer than just writing.

Sorry, but that's the truth, especially for independent projects. Even when I'm working with other writers and editors on a traditionally published project, there are deadlines, and I'm a stickler for deadlines (likely a holdover from my days as a newspaper editor). If for any reason I do not feel I can meet a deadline, I make sure the editor knows far, far in advance.

Again, focusing solely upon writing 50,000 words in one month would likely mean I would have to set aside some deadlines. Something I'm not likely to do, at least not without a really good reason.

So, those who want to scream at me, thinking I'm shooting down NaNoWriMo, please go right ahead. It seems that's the world we live in today, where screaming about others' opinions has become par for the course. But if one can get beyond any knee jerk reactions, the truth is, I have no problems with NaNoWriMo, I just don't find it helpful for myself.

Which is why, when recently asked, I do not take part in NaNoWriMo.

The short answer: I'll already be writing anyway. Taking part in NaNoWriMo would only give me more work to do, when I already have enough.


Keith said...

Well said!

Charles Gramlich said...

I feel kind of the same way, although I don't produce as much as you do. But I almost always have some deadline project due for an anthology or something.