Should You Participate in NaNoWriMo?


November is upon us again, and once more, it’s time for National Novel Writing Month. That time of year when writers all around the world commit to producing 50,000 words of fiction. But do you have it in you to join or not?

I think you should try. The first novel I completed, Fallen, was a NaNoWriMo project way back in 2005. I’d never written that much in such a short period of time. It was torturous, it was liberating, and it was also a lot of fun. There were some days when I’d go on crazy writing streaks and other days when I was lucky if I could get a few hundred words down.

And I finished with a few days left.

Before that time, I never thought I could complete a novel. Every project I attempted fizzled out before I got to the halfway mark. But Fallen changed all that and gave me a whole new insight. Now that I knew I could do it, the next question was, “how do I do it again?”

Of course, that’s the difficult part and it took me a while to actually get into that rhythm. But that’s another story.

There are some arguments against participating in NaNoWriMo. They usually all center around the same idea: a month isn’t enough time to write 50,000 words.

To which I say: bullshit.

It’s totally possible to write 50,000 words of good fiction in a month. And even if it’s not, who cares? The first draft of your first novel will be shit.

No ifs, ands, or buts—it will be shit.

But once that first draft is finished, you’re now closer to a completed novel than you ever were before. And now that you have that rough draft, you can work on shaping it into something that doesn’t suck.

Getting that first draft complete should be your primary goal. And if NaNoWriMo gets you motivated enough to have a deadline and forces you to turn off your internal editor long enough to finish that book, then I can’t see that being anything other than a good thing.

If you do participate though, don’t get lost in the social aspect. The NaNo forums are big rabbit holes that you could easily get lost in. By all means, join in, have some good chats, but remember to get your daily words done first.

As for me, I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo. Well, not technically. I will be writing, but I’m already close to the end on my current WIP. And then I’ll begin the second one a few days after I finish that. So I will probably write 50,000 words in November, but it won’t be on one book. It will be a few thousand words on the end of one book and then the bulk of it on a new book.

While NaNoWriMo can be a great motivator, don’t think that November is the only time when you can write a novel in a month. For me, I write every day. And because of that, every month is NaNoWriMo.

Use it as a stepping stone, a chance to hang with some other authors. But once you finish your project this month, get ready to do it again in December.


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