Why NOT to Participate in NANOWRIMO

//Why NOT to Participate in NANOWRIMO

Why NOT to Participate in NANOWRIMO

NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. You live for it or you dread it. Every year writers around the world need to decide whether or not to take the plunge. It’s a monstrous writing goal to tackle in one month.

Each year, as NaNoWriMo approaches, the Internet fills with articles about how to survive NaNo. How to prepare, and what resources are a must. These posts are great, and can really help writers who know they will benefit from the madness of writing a novel in a month. But for writers who are on the fence, all this can make them feel pressure to participate. Or maybe they feel like less of a writer if they are unsure about participating.

Very rarely do you get the other side, why you shouldn’t participate in NaNoWriMo. However, there are very┬ávalid reasons NOT to participate in NaNoWriMo. To those ready for the challenge, I wish you the best of luck. But to any writer whoermission not to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Why NOT to Participate in NaNoWriMo

Why NOT to Participate in NaNoWriMo

If You Don’t Want To

If you have no desire to participate in NaNo, don’t do it. Set your own writing goal for the month or season. Whatever works for you. If you know writing 50 k words in one month isn’t going to be a good way to help you reach your writing goals, stick with what you know works for you.

I’ll add thought, this is not an excuse to let fear hold you back. There is a difference between knowing it’s not a useful writing style for you and not trying because you are scared. If it’s fear holding you back, but you know deep down you want to give it a try, check out this list of resources and make a plan to conquer NaNo (even if that just means giving it a try to see what will happen)!

If You Don’t Have Time

November is a busy month for many people without trying to add a massive writing project to the To Do List. With Christmas around the corner and Thanksgiving the same month, trying to write an entire novel, might not be the best idea. Maybe work is really busy, or you are studying for exams. It could be sick kids taking up more of your time. Whatever is happening in your life, if the idea of adding more to your list overwhelms you, NaNoWriMo might not be right for you at this time, or ever.

If You are Already Working on a Story

This year, my reason for not participating is that I’m still working on my NaNo win from last year. I was hopping to be farther along with revision so that I could participate again, but I’m just not where I want to be and I don’t want to start a new project when my mind is so invested in my current one.

If you are working on something and you want to keep working on it, there is no reason to put it aside and start something new. Keep working on your current project, and attempt NaNo when you are ready and able to start a new project.

Instead of NaNoWriMo

If the entire idea of NaNo is overwhelming, and writing a novel in a month isn’t going to work for you, the idea behind it can still apply. A new month is still a great time to make a new goal or a more challenging one. So, even if you don’t participate, consider uping your game a little bit and striving to accomplish a more rigorous goal. This might be writing 2,000 words instead of 50,000. Maybe it is revising a certain number of chapters, or finishing an outline. Take a look at where you are in your writing journey, and set a goal that will help you accomplish something.

There is also the option of participating in NaNo without the pressure or expectation to win. Just do your best. Understand that you won’t write the full 50,000, but see how close you get. Without participating, you might right 8,000 a month. But if you participate, maybe you’ll write 15,000 or 35,000. Anything you write is more than not writing.

Whether or not you end up participating in NaNoWriMo, best of luck with your writing journey and life.

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2018-11-27T14:59:37-08:00By |Writing Lifestyle|6 Comments

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  1. Amy October 3, 2018 at 6:53 am - Reply

    Hi Shelby! I was actually looking forward to your opinion about NaNoWriMo and I must say that your article is informative and well thought out:) I myself am looking forward to NaNoWriMo. I competed for the first time last year and I won as well so I am extremely motivated. I read your blog continuously for motivation. I do however understand why you say that participating in NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. I do however, look forward to more encouraging posts from you as I forge through November like a writing warrior:D Take care and all the best for your writing!

    • Shelby October 3, 2018 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      Amy, thanks so much for this awesome comment. I’m glad you are excited to participate in NaNo. I desperately wish I could, but I know it’s just not a good year for me to do so. And I want to help others realize that might be the case for them. But to those deciding to do it, I give full support and encouragement. Best of luck!

  2. Shaun Lindsey October 4, 2018 at 7:27 am - Reply

    I like the concept and reasoning behind NaNo. Starting tends to be the biggest hurdle new and procrastinating writers have.

    The most important thing–in the beginning–is building a routine that fits your goals and lifestyle. The only way to build a routine is by doing, and NaNo certainly motivates people to start. However, for many of us full-time nonwriting job goers, 50,000 words in a month is unsustainable; at least at the beginning.

    I personally have never tried NaNo. With marriage and kids, I didn’t have the time to dedicate to the project, so as you stated in the article, I did other things–mostly procrastination.

    I’m divorced now. I have way more time than I’m accustomed to dealing with. I’ve decided this year, I’m going to use all this depressing free time to see if I can hit 50k in a month.

    Go me!

    • Shelby October 4, 2018 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      Shaun, I totally agree that to start, you have to do something. Best of luck with NaNo this year. I’m sorry it’s under such unfortunate circumstances you are able to participate, but I hope you succeed!

  3. Anne March 16, 2019 at 1:55 am - Reply

    In my case, signing-up for NaNo was the best thing I could have done, at this stage of my writing development. Every-one’s circumstances are different: TIME – Yes. I am a pensioner living alone (my husband died a few years ago). I have no other pressing commitments. MOTIVATION: I had never written any fictional story longer than 1000 words, but I had the idea for a novel which had been running around my brain for some time. PRESSURE – none at all. I had nothing to lose: and entering costs nothing. I had a very “let’s give it a go”, laid-back attitude. I doubted whether I could meet the challenge, but it excited me to try. Contributing to my lack of stress is that I do not write for a living. I write because I enjoy writing: I couldn’t not write. And I did it! On the 23rd November, I completed (very much a first draft) of my first novel. I had been energised by the challenge, and couldn’t wait to fire up my computer each day.

    I had done a bit of preparation however. Character sketches of all my main characters, and the outline of the plot. But the actual writing of the novel started at 6.00 a.m. local time on the 1st November.

    I was so elated that I had completed the challenge, that I swear I’m 10 years younger than when I started! (I’m 85, according to my birth date.). I’ve been working on my draft, at a much slower pace, ever since: polishing, chucking it at Beta readers, improving, editing and proof reading. Recent feedback from experienced authors was encouraging, and they suggested further improvements – which I’ll pursue.

    Will I do it again? Quite probably, depending on whether I get my WIP (a second novel) out of the way in time: and whether I have another well-thought-out plan for a new one.

    But I do agree with you that the decision to participate depends very much a writer’s personality and circumstances. The main point, to me, is that it must not create a feeling of stress. Do it for fun (and it can be fun); and because you love a challenge: and to learn and develop and gain confidence – as I did.

    • Shelby May 10, 2019 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Deciding to participate in NaNo is definitely an individual decision.

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