Today, writers across the globe begin the grueling challenge of NaNoWriMo.
National Novel Writing Month is a 30-day period set aside for writers (and wannabes) to complete a 50,000-word novel. There’s a LOT of hoopla surrounding it — pep talks, guides to success, tweets, blogs.
Too bad. Once again, I won’t be joining them.
This year, my problem is TIME (or rather, the lack of it).
You see, I’m challenged with:
- A needy dog named Dallas
- A needy, aging mother
- A full-time job (that I’ve neglected too much already)
- A body that craves proper nutrition, daily exercise, and sleep
There are only 24 hours in a day, try as we might to stretch them.
Oh, I’d love having a full month to focus only on my novel. To work my way out of the Murky Middle. To learn what my characters are doing in the world I’ve created for them and how they’re going to handle the crises I throw at them. To watch them grow (or fail and get back up to try again). To see who lives until the end (and who dies).
But NaNoWriMo isn’t the way I choose to write.
I don’t need a word count hanging over my head to set me up for failure.
I don’t want special offers from sponsors or completion badges.
I don’t need to compare my efforts to others, or have anyone shame me into putting down words.
I need more TIME, and nothing about NaNoWriMo promises to give me that.
Because it’s not that I don’t want to write. It’s finding the time. Squeezing in the want-tos when there are so doggone many have-tos.
Estimates say NaNoWriMo participants need to pen 2,000 words — give or take — each day to reach their target.
But 2,000 GOOD words in a day’s time, every single day for a month, is hard, even for the pros.
Take Irish author James Joyce, for example.
The story is told that when a friend asked Joyce how his work was going, the author said, “I got seven words today.”
“But James, that’s good … at least for you,” the friend said.
“Perhaps,” Joyce said, “but I don’t know what order they go in!”
I feel his pain.
I’d rather write one good sentence a day than 1,000 words only suitable for the trashcan.
I’d rather write when I can squeeze it in than shirk my responsibilities and live with guilt.
So, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, have at it — and good luck!
NaNoWriMo isn’t my cuppa for a lot of reasons and the commercialism and sponsors is one of them. I also wonder why November right before the holidays. Wouldn’t January or February be better timing. Having said that I do think anyone who wants to write and finish a significant piece of writing is helped by making a firm commitment to writing every day. Less concerned with the word count than the committment. A commitment of one good sentence everyday might be very satisfying. It always seems when I want to write something pushes it way in front of it. Odd, since I profuse to love to write.
I’ve got the same dilemma, Katybeth. I, too, love to write, but sometimes LIFE gets in the way. Perhaps that’s the lot of being a mom, being responsive to our kids and families before what we *want* to do. Sigh. Wonder how J.K. Rowling ever did it???
profuse? Well yes that too.. 😀
I always wondered what the NaNoWriMo was really all about. Thanks for the enlightenment. Amen, don’t need sponsors, badges, etc… bottom line is exactly as you said, we need TIME.
Thanks, Pat, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one! I’m pretty self-motivated and don’t need “carrots” to tempt me to do what I want. Now, if NaNoWriMo ever found a way to add just a few more hours to the day, why, I’d be shouting its praises from the highest rooftop, ha!
Debbie, I think it’s awesome if bloggers wish to participate in NaNoWriMo each year, however, like you, I just don’t have the time. And also like you, I would rather write fewer words (or posts) each week but have them be quality than just write for the sake of writing something. I do commit to writing two posts a week on my blog and that seems to work out well because it keeps my creative juices flowing without putting pressure on myself. I also like to interact with my readers in comments and visit their blogs as well, so anymore than two posts a week is just too much. I think it would be different if I were a professional blogger, but I’ve even seen pro’s get burn-out and then have to stop blogging. In fact, one of my favorite professional blogs which I’ve been reading for the past three years, just recently stopped blogging because it just became too much for them.
Great post, my friend. Have a faaaabulous weekend!
Ron, I’m right there with you — two quality posts a week, plus replying to the comments on your posts and visiting/commenting on other blogs, is MORE than enough to keep one person busy!
There’s something to be said for pacing ourselves. Could any of us turn out 2,000 words in a day’s time? Sure. But would those be “keeper words”? Probably not. And then knowing one has to sit down the next day — and the next and the next — and do it all over again? Yikes, I don’t need that! A pressure cooker like that would make me run screaming for the hills, ha!
I’ve tried it in the past too, Debbie, and I wonder why not do it in the quiet months of January or February. I do my own month of intensive writing a few times a year – so my next will be JaMaWriMo – sounds like a Bob Marley song – but for me it’s January Magazine Writing Month, because I freelance. My mind just doesn’t think in fiction. Loves to read it. Does not have the wiring to write it. Happy November my friend!
A month of intensive writing sounds wonderful to me, Barb, especially if it’s a period of my own choosing. Right before the holidays just won’t cut it. I think NaNoWriMo used to be held during the summer, but they decided to move it. And I think the idea is to start a new novel, something that you can complete during the month. Since I’m more in the intensive editing stage of a work I started months ago, I just don’t want to focus on “new” when I know I should be finishing “old,” Ha!
I’d rather write one good sentence a day than 1,000 words only suitable for the trashcan.****
YEs! I agree.
xxx Happy Saturday, dear.
Thank you, Kim, for agreeing with me — it’s hard going against the flow with something that’s as popular as NaNoWriMo. Every place I look, I see “reminders” to get that word count logged down and stay on track. I’m sorry, but I just can’t deal with all the noise. In the end, we’re all so unique and we have to find what works for us. Hugs from cold, but sunny, Central Illinois!
Kay’s son is in Chicago going to the (Chicago Medical School). Are you near there?
We’re about 180 miles south of there, Kim. Closer to Champaign, where the University of Illinois is. A doctor in the family?? How wonderful — she’d be so proud!!
I hardly ever link to one of my own posts, but I think you’ll enjoy what I wrote when I first bumped into this little phenomenon. I called it “No Mo’ WriMo”. Even though I’d write the post a bit differently now, my convictions still stand. Any group that tells me explicitly the goal “is to write a lot of crap,” I’m not giving myself over to.
And I hadn’t read that quotation from Annie Dillard I included for a long time. It’s even better now than it was then.
I hadn’t read that post, Linda, and found it fascinating and well written. Perhaps it’s just that I’m such a *careful* writer; sometimes it takes me a LONG time to put my ideas down, to plot out a novel, and to back away when I should. I have a strong inner critic, too. All that doesn’t lend itself readily to penning 2,000 words a day — especially if they’re merely crap and are only going to land in the trash anyway. What a sorry waste of time!
Maybe NaNoWriMo is good for some. Maybe it forces free writing and seeks to silence the inner editor. Maybe it’s beneficial for those suffering from writer’s block, or those needing lots of encouragement. I only need more time, which it can’t help me with!
I did it once, and I neglected EVERYTHING else to do it. Not this year…though I seem to have less obligations, somehow I Just don’t have enough time to do all the things I want.
I’m afraid neglecting everything is out of the question, Suzi. There’s just too much on my plate right now and, with the end of the year approaching, I only foresee things becoming more hectic. I’m glad to have “met” someone who’s done it, though!
I’m with you on this 100% My life is stressful enough without the additional pressure of trying to meet a goal I really have no chance of attaining. November is really hard anyway, with kids’ school (and vacations), end of the year push at work to get things wrapped up before the new year, oh, and that little holiday called ‘Thanksgiving’ where we either visit or entertain family for a few days, and then take two weeks to recover 🙂
All this being said, I do admire those who can and do accept the challenge, whether or not they are able to meet the word count!
Me, too, Janna. The end of the year, the holidays, all conspire to making this the wrong time for NaNoWriMo. Not that they asked me, ha! I remember how hard it was when Domer was little; now that he’s off on his own, you’d think it’d be easier, but you’d be wrong! More power to those who drop everything and accept the challenge — maybe one day, I’ll join them!
I always thought NaNoWriMo was too much. But this year, believe it or not, I’m going to participate in the NaBloPoMo, of posting a blog a day and that can be as long or as short as you want. No word count, which is a dumb way to judge writing by anyway. So we’ll see how it goes. I feel this one’s more doable, but the verdict is still out. At least I know that if I try and don’t succeed, no one’s going to be putting me in jail for non-delivery or anything like that. I have nothing to lose! Trust me, some of these posts will be super short!
Good for you, Monica! I don’t think I could handle even that, as busy as I am right now. But at least you’re starting small — a post a day — and I’ll bet you can manage that. It’s not that I don’t have enough ideas to follow suit; it’s simply a matter of time, and challenging myself to do something I KNOW I don’t have time for is a recipe for disaster!!
I don’t know if I’ll have time, especially since I’m heading to Chicago for Thanksgiving again this year. But I’ll try it and I already wrote in today’s blog that I’m not committing to every day. I may skip one or two…we’ll see.
Whatever you do will be a major accomplishment, Monica. Hang in there and give it your best!! Maybe those “vacation” days would be good for a photo post — just a thought.