Todays Author / writing

18 Good Reasons I’m NOT Doing NaNoWriMo

nanowrimoNovember 1st-30th–National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know)–is when the entire world picks up a pen and writes. Thousands of words a day with the goal of finishing a novel in a month. Words pour from pens like ants racing to an abandoned picnic. People stop going to movies, watching TV, skip football games, all in the name of literary endeavor.

Last year, over 310,000  people participated. Tens of thousands of them were winners defined in the rules as writing over 50,000 words. NaNoWriMo’s tagline–thirty days and nights of literary abandon–couldn’t be more true. In any month but November, a novel would take from one to ten years to complete, exhaust the writer and infuriate those close to them who don’t understand how fictitious people can be so gal-darn fascinating.

Well, for the fifth year in a row (or the fifteen if I count from Year One), I’ll be skipping this massive meeting of the minds. I weighed the pros and cons, lined them up on two sides of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of college lined notepaper, compared and contrasted, and realized it just won’t work for me. Here’s why:

  1. I don’t believe in miracles
  2. To rephrase Ashton Kucher, NaNoWriMo looks an awful lot like work
  3. I have to wash my hair (Is that excuse ever believable?)
  4. To rephrase Winston Churchill, It has all the virtues I dislike (hard work, cerebral endeavor, camaraderie) and none of the vices I admire (sloth, perspicacity, wordiness)
  5. Some books get clearer the more words you put into them; mine just gets longer
  6. The ribbon broke on my typewriter (who knows what I’m talking about?)
  7. I have to get ready for Thanksgiving
  8. My protagonist’s on strike
  9. I fired my muse
  10. I don’t have anything to wear
  11. I hate being pressured more than I hate opera
  12. Writing a novel in 30 days is one of the things I do best–along with finding needles in haystacks.
  13. I asked my husband if he’d support me in my endeavor. He said, Sure, in the tone of voice he uses to tell me the dog’s butt needs detailing.
  14. Of course not. I don’t have to leap into a fire pit to know I’ll get burned.nanowrimo
  15. As an efriend once commented, “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, worn a hole in it and now use it as a duster”
  16. I like deadlines as much as sticking my tongue on a block of ice
  17. Participating in NaNoWriMo doesn’t even beat hitting golf balls in sand traps
  18. The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on

Anyone have one good reason why I should enter? You at the back of the room–speak up…

–reprinted from Today’s Author.

–image courtesy of NaNoWriMo website

Oh–if you’d like to know why people participate, check out Elisa Lorello’s post. If you want to get involved with other NaNoWriMo writers, check out your local libraries. Many (like this one in Grand Rapids Michigan) have month-long events to groupize (I’m allowed to make up words; I’m a writer) what is too often a lonely activity. And finally, put this NaNoWriMo Get Psyched music on your Favorites list. Play it whenever your energy lags. It is fantastic (includes Eye of the Tiger–a perennial favorite).

More on NaNoWriMo:

8 Tips to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo — Oh No

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. 

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40 thoughts on “18 Good Reasons I’m NOT Doing NaNoWriMo

  1. Pingback: 10 Hits and Misses for 2015–WordDreams « Jacqui Murray

  2. I could probably write that much in that short of time, if I really wanted to; I tend to write in bursts. But I’m a procrastinator, I like to take my time on things so I can do them well, and I’d rather concentrate on the story I’m already writing (I don’t need another distraction).


  3. I’ve stared nano several times–never successfully, at least on their terms. But I started both my novels that way–and I finished them after November. The both worked out from my perspective. And I have a running start on two more, which I am excited about. So, it works for me, but not the way they say. I’d love to go for it this year, but I’m exhausted from building and the day job. I’ve decided on Nanolite–I’ll shoot for some writing every day, but not for the monthly 50,000. My first day I reached over a thousand–but I’m going to roll it into my blog. The main thing is to make writing back into a daily routine.


    • Your daily activities are so well-rounded–physical and mental. I wish I’d do more exercise.

      BTW, I’ve started your book–The Gift of Guylaine Claire–and love it. You have a true understanding of characterization. I’m enjoying getting to know your folks.


      • I’m not sure I think building is exercise–beyond just being necessary. But this year I think I’ll really be in shape when there’s enough snow to cross-country ski. They say that upper body strength is key to maintaining mental acuity. At this rate, I’ll be sharp as a tack to the end.
        And thanks for liking the family that lives in my head.


  4. Jacqui… all are great reasons… you are so clever that I can’t but nod in agreement with you… And besides you guys have a National Novel Writing Month?… Days and celebrations everywhere!🙂. Thanks for telling m,e about that as I had no clue!.
    All the very best to you, Aquileana😛


  5. LOL No, but I am passing this year. I don’t want to start the a new WiP and the current WiP doesn’t have another 50,000 words in it. Not that it would matter. I am a little stuck for words.


  6. I know some great novels have started at NaNo. What I don’t get is where the damn camaraderie comes from. How the hell do they get the time to go on the forums and chat about what they’re doing?? I’m still undecided. Two days to deadline. Not a good thing that is it. Slightly unprepared…


      • Bad joke – I’m not a procrastinator, I simply have too much to do. Making myself write is not my problem – finding time to do so is.
        Next year, who knows? Maybe I’ll have an agent. Maybe you’ll have a contract.
        Keep writing like this and you will – or you’ll be hired to write stand up comedy routines.


  7. My three reasons for not ever doing the NaNo thing is this: 1)There isn’t anyway that I can type fast enough for 50,000 words in 30 days. Typing with one hand just won’t do that. 2) Like you, deadlines are something I avoid at all cost. This could be why I get depressed during the holiday season. 3) I do not want a forum of supporters giving me advice. I have one writing buddy and that is great.

    Pondering question: Are they really saying 50,000 words is a novel? From what I have read, anything under 65,000 words is a novella (or is it novelette?).

    At this point, I write (type) approximately 600 to 1000 words on my project each day. I think that I’m doing okay at this speed.


    • Those are three great reasons. I have a few questions: 1) I get asked a lot about a one-handed keyboard for students. I’ve found a few, but never used them. Do you use one? And have you tried a voice program like Dragon?

      Pondering question: I think this is a rough draft of a longer novel. Twere I to participate, I’d treat it almost as an outline rather than a fleshed out novel. Then, I’d go back afterwards and fill in the details. (Listen to me: I’m planning how to participate next year. Stopme!)


  8. For reasons that you’ve not listed (I have my own) I too am passing on NaNoWriMo this year. I’m just putting the finishing touches on the latest in my mystery series, and I’ll need November to do the rewriting and final editing, I’m off to Lexington, KY to participate in a 3-day workshop, and right after that to London to be keynote speaker at a conference. There just ain’t no time to put myself on the NaNoWriMo rack.


    • I hope you blog about both of those, Charles–the workshop and the conference. I don’t get to enough writerly get-togethers so enjoy experiencing them through people like you. Congrats on being the keynote!


    • Agreed, Susan. I think there’s something like NaNo for artists. Isn’t there? Efriend Karen Gadient mentioned participating in KarPaiTwenMo–

      She’s quite the artist.


      • I think November (or any month, really) can be a marathon challenge for just about anything. I chose to start an art month for myself last year and will do it again this year. I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few times, but I’m moving on. I do think every writer should try it once, though, if only for the community experience.


  9. *drops hand and steps forward a little* ‘I can lend you a new printer ribbon’🙂 These reasons are hilarious! Thoroughly entertaining. I had no intention of doing NaNo this year and then suddenly I had a burst of inspiration and signed myself up! Yes…I can be impulsive and live to regret my decisions🙂


    • I’ll be adding your witty response, MB, when I update this next year. Assuming I again don’t join NaNoWriMo. Although, I’ve made an informal agreement to join forces with another online friend and do it. Yikes!


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