Todays Author / writing

16 Reasons I’m NOT Doing NaNoWriMo (Again)

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:

  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. My muse is on vacation.
  10. I don’t have anything to wear.
  11. I hate being pressured more than I hate editing.
  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 know how to leap over tall buildings in a single bound either.nanowrimo
  15. I like deadlines as much as sticking my tongue on a block of ice.
  16. Participating in NaNoWriMo doesn’t beat hitting golf balls in sand traps.

Anyone have one good reason why I should enter? You at the back of the room–speak up… There are good reasons. Check out Book Riot’s list of ten reasons and the Lexicon Writing Blog‘s list of nine.

More on NaNoWriMo:

NaNoWriMo on Facebook

NaNoWriMo on Twitter

NaNoWriMo on Pinterest

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.


103 thoughts on “16 Reasons I’m NOT Doing NaNoWriMo (Again)

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  8. You’ve got me smiling…:) NANOWRIMO helped inspire me to really get writing and actually complete my novel DOG BONE SOUP a couple November’s ago. Will very likely sign up again when I get really serious about one of my other projects. Meanwhile, I’m just having fun and enjoying writing one small step at a time. Those steps keep me busy enough right now. Have a great November! 🙂 xo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hahaha! This made me laugh so much, Jacqui! 😀 Wonderful reasons not to participate in the madness this year! And yes, I do actually know what a ribbon in the typewriter is, I´m still having mine from back in the 80´s though I don´t use it for anything but collecting dust 😉 Oh, and washing your hair is always a very good excuse, unbeatable really as will countless women around the world confirm 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve done NaNo for over 10 years. I use it not just to get 50k+ words out but mostly to get (back) into the habit of writing every day. I seem to flounder around this time of year as I recover from gardening over the summer, and NaNo gets me going again. I’ve done self-imposed NaNos in other months (February is aways fun 🙂 ). For me, it’s a reason to get my writing ass back in gear.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Gave me a good laugh. Personally, I’ve always considered doing NaNoWriMo but have never done so. It really boils down to the fact I’m always working on other actual-ongoing projects and have no interest in trying to generate and pull something out of my ass in the matter of a month.

    Quality standards. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jacqui, I had to laugh at the typewriter ribbon being broken – grr!! I’m just about young/old enough to remember that…just before the amazing electronic ones came out. Wow! They were a wonder! My excuse…I’m stressed enough already with editing and I like some sleep!! 😀😀

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I wrote 8 pages on my book today, which is pretty good. But by 8pm, I’ll have written 1500 words for my clients who pay me to write. So I know I write at least 30K a month for clients alone. And that doesn’t count book writing. But I’m never at the start of a book when NaNo begins…and the next book I write after I finish this one will be a chapter book. And those are only 2,000 words or so!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I used to say that I don’t believe in NaNoWriMo, and a few years ago I was writing: “I don’t do NaNo per se because I think it is a reason to motivate yourself to finish what you start. And I have done it several times, without the deadline of one month. I have written (in my mother tongue) stories between 19,500 and 203,500 words. I can do better without the stress of a deadline more. I have enough of it at work. Why hurry? If there was the prize of publishing the story for free, yes, this was an incentive. But just to show I can – I can do it any time of the year, taking as long as necessary.”

    However, the support groups, I think they are wonderful for any kind of writing/ writers. I wish there would be more of them all year long. I have taken part in some, unofficially, ie without registering on the NaNo site, in the years 2012-2015, knowing that my writings weren’t destined to be a NaNo novel, but the regular posts for my interactive RPG story. I availed myself of the writing sprints the RPG resource sites organised, to write more posts, to write quicker and better. I used the prompts for new ideas. I used every November to open a new Word file for everything I wrote then, without ever joining the NaNo site, and to collect them the whole month, just to know how much I write, and I always got to something around 42,000, give and take a couple thousands.

    I might still not believe in NaNoWriMo; but I believe in challenging myself, and since last November I decided I need it. I need to focus on something creative, literary, to achieve something and to measure my success. So it is well. I won last November’s, so I proved myself I can write at least 1,667 words/ day for 30 days. I didn’t finish the novel, because I am not a person to write as concisely as 50,000 words/ novel. Mine are always much more. The novel started last November will be finished in 2018’s Camp NaNos. This November I need to finish another one, which is awaited by the publisher.

    Like last year’s, I have planned writing this novel for a long time; I need NaNoWriMo’s kick-off in order to actually start doing it. And once started… I always finish what I start. I also need the support group. I have always looked for a group of similarly-minded people. I am glad that, besides the forums support group, I attended the local NaNo meetings last year and that we had found each other, a bunch of 8-9 aspiring writers out of which 5 won. We exchanged experiences and writing resources, we helped and encouraged each other. Our paths wouldn’t have crossed otherwise, given that we come from different generations and academic backgrounds and we are writing in various genres – some of us in our mother tongue, some of us in English. And I am glad and grateful we have met with this opportunity! We all know it was not easy, and we all have been there for each other in moments when feeling like giving up, or merely feeling tired and demoralised by the too little progress, or stuck with the plot in a point.

    what have I learnt by doing NaNoWriMo last year, in high conditions of stress, working overtime for 3 weeks, with the week-ends between them included and being confronted also with health problems?

    – If in those given conditions I succeeded, anybody can succeed, with some ambition, determination and writing discipline.

    – Writing in your mother tongue isn’t any easier than writing in English, especially when you have written more in English about certain subjects and you realize you are lacking the appropriate terminology in your mother tongue. Dictionaries are suddenly your best friends…

    – The local NaNoWriMo team’s support is essential, and also the forum’s general support. One can ask a question and find answers to get unstuck and go further, one can find the lost determination to finish and to win.

    – The support of the family and friends to whom you have confessed your goal is also needed. Warmest thanks to my husband and my mother, who had accepted my goal and had actively helped me by relinquishing most household duties from me and asking stimulating questions. I thank my work colleagues too, who rooted for me and let me write during the last days, when things were quieter on the office front, and who celebrated winning with me. I thank also to my RPG writing partners, who encouraged me and supported me in this endeavour.

    – Word sprints and prompts are helpful too. This year I got only 2 days of writing sprints on RPG-Directory. I could do none on the NaNoWriMo site, since they were timed always for USA only. And it showed in the less productive days than last years, when sprints were common every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. NaNo’s great for writers who struggle with WIBBOW (Would I Be Better Off Writing) because it does provide that bum-in-chair discipline to write every day … so it certainly has value.

    It took me a while (and 2 NaNo’s) to work out my preferred way of writing, to edit as I go, which isn’t all that compatible with NaNo.

    And, having done two, I don’t feel the need to carry on, trying as I saw some people in the NaNo forums do, to get to, and over 100,000 words! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I enjoyed your reasons not to enter. To them I would add: “I have a hangnail to take care of first.” No one in his right mind would even attempt this. Quality writing or simply fast typing to enter the correct number of words? Those who have never published don’t quite understanding the process which includes endless editing and re-writing. It is tedious and time consuming and not for the faint of heart. I am with you on this one, Jacqui. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hmm, practice, accountability whether you hit mark or not motivates to try, it is fun when you get involved with other NaNo participates especially in groups. Gives a better idea of what it takes to write 50000 words in 30 days. PRACTICE hitting or moving toward goals.

    Liked by 2 people

      • The cabins at Camp NaNO with the right group are fun. November is not as together since no cabins but if you NaNo with same people every year it is like going to a convention event. I have done every one since 2013. They also other things going on that are fun to check out. I started doing that last year and did not realize they had so much. Starts before NaNo actually.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, they are private cabins you can create and invite up to 11 people to your cabin or you can choose to be randomly placed in the available cabin.

            First time I did, I did the latter, I was lucky the cabin was fun but not everyone has as much luck with random but they did give you criteria you can choose for better fits.

            Now I have too many I am invited to but you can only pick one each camp. There is my Holly Lisle group, local NaNo Lake Writer’s group, and two other writer friends who always invite me to join them.

            I switch up. The camp is in April and July officially but there also unofficial camps in other months you can find when googled.

            And then, of course, the BIG One in November which is not camp with cabins and the original Official founded NaNoWriMo November every year.

            Wow did not intentionally mean to make a long conversation of it but love it when you talk back to me.

            Liked by 1 person

  18. Love all those reasons and may I say I can never write under pressure…my eyes start watering and my fingers seem to develop rheumatism! That quote of Winston Churchill resonates with me. 🙂 I am a free bird, liking to perch wherever I fancy.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I’m with you. It’s not something I will EVER do – there is no way I would have the time to devote to that many words in a month, unless I was being paid directly for them. I have to earn a living around my writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I’ll be joining you, in not doing this. For me it is classic flawed, “If a little is good, excessive should wonderful.” Thinking. The whole concept is flawed. Word count goals, etc. Not me. I’ll be busy writing, but won’t be so narrowly focused.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I will be participating this year. I had been wanting to experience this for a few years now and finally I’m heading toward it. Plus, I don’t cook for Thanksgiving, I eat. But, just from reading all that you do, I wouldn’t do it either (lol).

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I was invited to give a talk at one of the libraries by a NANO author. She had paid the library for the time slot. When she called to confirm the library had given the time slot to a knitting group. We changed the date and time but the change was so late that no one came. Oh, and the local media does not support local self-published authors. They will not publish me press releases.Our local libraries do not support self-published authors. There is a book event at the end of October for traditionally published authors. There are a dozen or so authors in the area like me who don’t count.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s terrible. Our library closes too early for evening events so my book group had to move elsewhere. I haven’t looked into it far enough to see about publishing options. I’m a bit too shy to do an event. Maybe if I lived close to you…


  23. Simple–I think the whole conceprocess is flawed, stupidly. It has good intentions of beating inertia, elevating people to new heights, etc. But little good in terms of the written word can come from it. Not for me. Never have; never will.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Hi Jacqui – I’d fall into your category … and I can’t give you a good reason for doing it! Good luck to all who do … not a good idea at this time of year … but I’d rather work in my own time – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

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