So November has rolled around once again, bringing with it the ever-growing NaNoWriMo movement. National Novel Writing Month, for those who haven’t yet heard of it, is a giant community of writers—both professional and amateur—banding together in mutual support and each attempting to complete a novel of 50,000 words or more in the month of November. Last year, some 300,000 people signed up.
I’ve never actually done a NaNoWriMo. I’ve never gone to the website and registered. I’ve never written a full novel in the month of November.
I will, though. Someday. Some year. Just, not this one.
I have this annoying tendency to be smack dab in the middle of projects when NaNo comes knocking. Last year, I attempted to do a sort of NaNo for All Flames Cast, wherein I was mind-bogglingly optimistic about both my writing speed and the length of AFC. Needless to say, the book ended up clocking in at close to 150,000 words and I didn’t even come close to writing my original goal of 90k in November of 2014.
The year before that, when I first heard about NaNo, I was in the throes of worldbuiling while also attempting, with only partial success, to write a collection of short fiction.
This year features All Flames Cast once again, only this time I’m on the revision stage. I have a lot of work to do on this next draft, both in streamlining some scenes and in adding an entirely new chapter, on top of all the normal revision-type edits.
So, no, I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Maybe next year…if I’m not working on Of Genesis already. And here is the root of the problem I have with NaNoWriMo: it doesn’t really work for pre-existing projects.
NaNo is a great thing for a lot of writers, especially those just starting out and don’t think they have it in them to write a novel. As I’ve said before, writing is hard work, and a lot of aspiring authors are daunted by the task. NaNo is a fantastic way to get over that hump.
But for me, as someone who plans out things in advance and writes both fairly slowly and within a pretty strict outline, NaNo blurs my vision of the goal. I’m not trying to write a specific word count. I’m trying to write the best books I can. A lot of the NaNo advice you’ll see floating around stresses that just because you wrote something that isn’t necessarily good, you shouldn’t stop and go back and rewrite. NaNo is all about hitting a goal, sticking to a routine, and developing the confidence to finish a project—regardless of quality. Sure, there are definitely writers out there who have produced good books out of doing NaNo, and some have even gotten those published. But for my approach to writing novels, it doesn’t jive well. It distracts me from the ultimate goal.
At some point, I do want to participate in NaNoWriMo. I think it would be a blast, but I would have to make sure my novel for it is something suited for the spirit of the thing. I don’t want to bring in baggage when I do it.
In the meantime, all of you awesome people who are participating, good luck! Keep a cup of coffee within reach, stick to your schedule, and kick some butt.