November 1st-30th–National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know)–is when the entire world considers being a writer. Words pour from pens like ants racing to an abandoned picnic with the goal of finishing a novel in a month. People stop going to movies, watching TV, skip football games, swear of social media–all in the name of literary endeavor.
In 2016 (from the NaNoWriMo website):
- 384,126 participants, including 71,229 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
- 1,168 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.
Over 450 participants traditionally published their novels and over 130 self-pubbed (see the list here). Tens of thousands of the participants 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.
Raise your hand if you’re participating this year–woah. That’s a lot of hands. Well, again, I’ll be skipping this massive meeting of the minds. Just to be clear: I probably write 50,000 words every month keeping up with my blogs, social media, freelancing, editing, and begging (to agents and publishers). Since I couldn’t NOT do those, joining NaNoWriMo would mean doubling that output. Even so, I weighed the pros and cons, lined them up on two sides of a sheet of college lined digital notepaper, compared and contrasted, and it just won’t work for me. Here’s why:
- I don’t believe in miracles.
- To rephrase Ashton Kucher, NaNoWriMo looks an awful lot like work.
- I have to wash my hair (Is that excuse ever believable?).
- 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).
- Some books get clearer the more words you put into them; mine just gets longer.
- The ribbon broke on my typewriter (who knows what I’m talking about?).
- I have to get ready for Thanksgiving.
- My protagonist’s on strike.
- My muse is on vacation.
- I don’t have anything to wear.
- I hate being pressured more than I hate editing.
- Writing a novel in 30 days is one of the things I do best–along with finding needles in haystacks.
- 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.
- Of course not. I don’t know how to leap over tall buildings in a single bound either.
- I like deadlines as much as sticking my tongue on a block of ice.
- Participating in NaNoWriMo doesn’t beat hitting golf balls in sand traps.
More on NaNoWriMo:
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, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.