No NaNoWriMo for Me

So who’s planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Begun on the West Coast in 1999 with all of 21 participants, it’s grown exponentially ever since; last year, more than 200,000 people signed up for the challenge.

Basically, participants commit to writing a new 50,000-word novel in the space of 30 days, beginning at midnight on Nov. 1 and ending at 11:59:59 on Nov. 30.

To complete the task on time, they must write 1,667 words each day.

Do NOT expect me to participate in such tomfoolery!

Writing is serious business.

Sure, I’d love to write an entire novel in 30 days. I’d love to be declared a “winner” just by completing the required goal. And I’d love to have the kind of time in which I could do nothing for a full month but write.

But I’m telling ya, it ain’t gonna happen.

NaNoWriMo seems to encourage quantity over quality, a philosophy I can’t buy into. Their slogan is “No Plot? No Problem!”, also the title of the book penned by the instigator of this challenge.

Now I’m one of those painstaking writers. Even when I was working in the daily newspaper biz, I wrote and re-wrote my stories, changing a word here, moving a paragraph there, editing, always editing, right up to deadline. My editors used to love my clean copy (the good sisters who taught me English would’ve been proud!).

No way can I rationalize blabbering just to meet a word goal.

And another thing. Writing is a solitary endeavor. My inner editor is persistent in demanding I keep butt in chair and hands on the keyboard.

I don’t need (or want) weekly pep-talks in my e-mail box, advice forums, and fancy kickoff parties to “help” me write. That kind of procrastination only gets in the way of the task at hand.

Nor do I think it’s a good idea for NaNoWriMo to encourage everybody and his brother to simply string words together and call themselves a winner. There’s enough junk on the market right now; we don’t need more. And agents are probably shuddering over the idea that any of this hastily written drivel will actually be *gasp* submitted.

Finally, I’ve always believed you shouldn’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. That just sets you up for failure, which isn’t good for your self-esteem.

Some days I’m quite productive; other days, not so much. But I’d rather write less that’s right than more that’s filler.

As Gandhi said, “It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.”

Any thoughts you’d like to share?

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18 thoughts on “No NaNoWriMo for Me

  1. There’s no way I’d do this. I’d never considered it for many of the reasons you stated. I’ve got enough pressure to get things done, I don’t need to fabricate more (especially around the holidays!)

    • I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one, Janna! I think this thing originally was in July but they moved it to November — obviously, it was a man who started it, someone who doesn’t feel the pressure of the holidays, haha!

  2. I love to write, feel great when I write and find myself peeling tape of the fridge all of a sudden when I sit down to do “write.” I’m with you I don’t really care to write in “group” although I know people who benefit from it. I also have to like what I write so quality has to come before quantity. I do think setting a goal for yourself to sit down every day and write something even if is 10 words is helpful towards moving you towards developing the butt in chair self-discipline.
    NoNoWrimo for me.

    • Thanks for your opinion, Katybeth. Your advice to write something every day is right on! I rarely go a single day without writing something — I feel like my day is wasted unless I put words down (and it’s oh-so-hard to write the following day if you’ve missed!)

  3. Finally! The voice of sanity! First off, I don’t like the name and could wrap my little head around the concept. Second, who needs the pressure? I love writing so I don’t need the clock to be ticking (you only have a month) and the word count to be chomping at the bit for me to hit a daily goal. Nope, not for me! It looked to me that everyone but me had drunk the Kool-aid so I’m relieved to read your post and to know we are kindred spirits in this. Is there an anti-nano-nani-boo-boo we can partake in? Now, I’d be all for that! ;)

    • I was a little afraid I’d hit a nerve and people would hate me for being “anti-nano-nani-boo-boo”!! I’m relieved to hear that other sane people aren’t joining in this ridiculous craze. Only folks with nothing else to do and no real sense of perfectionism could blindly crank out nearly 1,700 words every day for a month! You wouldn’t dump trash all over the highways; why dump trash all over the Internet??

        • You’ve got my full permission to tweet away, Monica! That’s another thing I haven’t had time to do — Twitter. I’m kind of on the fence about it. Part of me thinks it’s just so much noise!

  4. Hey Deb, I’m with you on this one. Personally, I wouldn’t choose this route but for some, the deadline and pressure may work just fine. Amen! Now regarding Twitter- it can be a wonderful tool for connections and information. There is a lot of noise but you can pick and choose what you want to engage in (Strategic Tweeting). In fact, this is a tweetable post so I will send it out there for further discussion :-)

    • Awesome! I keep saying that I’m going to give it a whirl when I get time. Of course, that’s just like any other thing we say we’re going to do when we get time or money or whatever. I think it boils down to we make time for that which we consider important — and business has me pretty well “snowed under” right now (which is a GOOD thing, haha!)

  5. I’ve seen several posts/tweets/notifications lately about NaNoWriMo, but yours is the first one I’ve seen against it.
    I agree with all your reasons for not participating, but also think it might be useful, if only as a technical challenge.
    Most things that I’ve had to figure out how to do in a hurry have only gotten better when I could sit down afterwards and sort out what worked, what didn’t, and how to fix the latter.

    On the other hand, I think your top image pretty much sums up the results…

    • Thanks for visiting, thanks for your opinion. I suppose, if all one wanted was the technical challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days time, NaNoWriMo would serve the purpose. However, if one is serious about writing a novel, the last thing one needs is the pressure to merely crank out words! Careful writers take their calling seriously and weigh what they say (and how they say it). Free-writing just to get the juices flowing is another story, probably one never to see the light of day.

        • You’re too kind to write and say so — Thanks for the praise! I’m glad to hear I’ve been persuasive. Write if YOU want to write; never write because somebody’s demanded you to. Write when you can, not just because somebody’s set aside November to write.

  6. –Oh, I feel much better :)
    all the sites have this and I was beginnging to feel like a big fat loser!

    I have other writing projects…NO WAY can I do this…WHAT?

    Whew. … glad I’m not the only one… Xx

    • Thanks for visiting and validating! I have so much on my plate right now that the pressure of penning (keying!) 1500 words every day for a month is something I surely don’t need! Maybe this is geared to those folks who don’t already have something to do, or those who totally need a babysitter — sounds as if you and I don’t fall into those categories! Welcome — I’m coming over to check out your blog right now!

  7. Here, here! I’m in total agreement with you. I see these challenges to write more, such as NaNoWriMo or the WordPress Daily Post challenge and I feel like I SHOULD participate. But deep down, I know it’s not in me to stick with it. It’s not for lack of desire, it’s just the design of my life right now. And you’re right. Writers should be striving for quality, not quantity. But hey… if a few people find the drive they need from such challenges and can find succes? More power to ’em! For me, it would just end up being a reason to feel like a failure.

    • Most writers suffer from enough insecurity, without adding “feeling like a failure” to the list! I’m afraid participating in something like this would call up a lot of resentment in me, when I’m already pretty hard on myself. Thanks for weighing in, Terri!

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