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Get Ready… Get Set… NoNoWriMo!

November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMoThere are a lot of pep talks out there for everyone doing NaNoWriMo this year – the same as any year.  If you need a pep-talk to get you revved up to write 50,000 words in 30 days…

You’ve come to the wrong place.

Instead, today, I want to talk to the NoNoWriMoers.  That’s right: the people who aren’t doing NaNoWriMo.

If you’re a writer, the first few days of the month of November can be a time of anxiety.  It’s like everyone you know is warming up their word processors and shooting out of the gate, ready to write.  It can make you feel like something less than a real writer if you’re not participating.

But the fact is, there are a lot of us writers who aren’t participating.  And you know what?  It’s okay.

Some of us aren’t doing NaNoWriMo because we’re already professional, published writers, and we have our own writing schedules to keep, and abiding by the arbitrary rules of NaNoWriMo doesn’t fit in with our writing work schedule.  Obviously, this group doesn’t include me.  Some of us aren’t doing NaNo because we think the whole thing is really rather a little silly.  This group does not include me either.  Some aren’t doing because, even though we think it sounds like an interesting and fun challenge, there are things in our life that make it more or less impossible to participate.  (I’m in this group.) 

But whatever the reason you’re not participating in NaNo, it’s okay.  You’re not alone.  We are the NoNoWriMoers, and we are legion.

Ultimately, if you’re a writer, you have to write in a way that fits your life, and what works for you.  If that means you can arrange things such that you can set aside a whole month in November to churn out a 50,000-word novel, and if this appeals to you, then that’s awesome for you.  If you prefer to work at a slower steady pace, and the frenetic energy of NaNoWriMo doesn’t sit well with you, then hey, slow-and-steady wins the race.  Go you!  If life has thrown a lot of distractions or troubles or higher-priorities and you have to take care of things right now, and NaNoWriMo is the least of your worries… I feel for you, and so do a lot of other writers.  Some of us have been there.  Some of us are there.

If you’d really like to do NaNoWriMo but for whatever reason you can’t… cheer up.  There’s always next year.  Or the year after.

Myself?  I won’t be doing it next year, either.  I’ll still have a toddler with even more energy than he has now (I think they peak at about 5 or 6, but I’m totally shooting from the hip here) and I’ll have a new infant with an even chance of the new guy still having a highly disruptive sleep schedule.  So if you’re like me… you’ll have to bide your time.

Until then, write whenever, however, and whatever you may.  Just make it work for you.

Now it’s your turn to sound off.  Are you NaNoWriMoing this year?  If not, why not?  Do you hope/plan to try for future years?

21 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2012 9:53 am

    I thoroughly support NaNoWriMo. I think it’s a great idea. I’ve never participated and I doubt if I ever will. It does not, as the Quakers say, speak to my condition.

    I’m a bit of a mixture of the categories you mention. I’m thorougly nonprofessional, but I have finished (and published) two novels. Plus, I write serially, so I never write a first draft all the way through — I write section by section, revising and revising and revising each one before I post it and move on to the next. I have tremendous admiration for anybody who can write a whole first draft from beginning to end. I couldn’t do it.

    Plus I’m already in the middle of two other projects, have other responsibilities, and have no internet access at my house at the moment.

    So, if anything, I’m even less likely to participate this year than usual, if that’s possible. 🙂

    • November 2, 2012 2:57 pm

      Yeah, I support and encourage NaNoers as well… but I figured there’s lots of encouragement and support out there for NaNoers that need such – but what about the rest of us? Anyway, I’m right there with you: I can’t reasonably participate, because life, you know?

  2. November 1, 2012 11:56 am

    I also applaud and encourage all the NaNo participants! Sometimes we need a little motivation to get writing regularly, so I wholly endorse it. I’ve never done it, due to bad timing when it has come to my ongoing projects, and because I know how fast I can write without getting burnt out. It’s the same this year. I have a draft to finish, and a novel to edit 🙂 I

    • November 2, 2012 3:07 pm

      And good luck with the projects you have on your own plate. I applaud and encourage that. 🙂 For those of us who can’t do NaNo for whatever our reasons, let’s keep making progress on the projects we’ve already embraced.

  3. November 1, 2012 12:03 pm

    My project is nearing the end of its planning phase, and therefore I expect to begin writing by early 2013. This means that at this point next year I am planning to try NaNoWriMo! Thanks to my thesis I finished last year, I am quite familiar with the mental state this rate of writing induces and the necessary social sacrifices it requires. I’m in fact looking forward to it. 🙂

    • November 2, 2012 4:10 pm

      If you’ve written a doctoral thesis, I’m sure you’re well-acquainted with what it feels like to write under a lot of pressure like that. I’ve never done one myself (unlikely to do so any time soon), but I know several people who’ve followed down that path…

  4. November 1, 2012 12:16 pm

    I’ve never done it because I’ve never really had an interest to.

    I sat down one (rare) morning with nothing on my daily schedule and churned out 10,000 words on an initial draft before the end of the night; I later ended up rewriting pretty much the entire thing and it turned out completely different, lol. That said, I’m convinced that I could churn out 50,000 words in a month if I put my mind to it, but I’ve just realized I’m not the kind of writer who gets satisfactory results when I’m sprinting, so to speak.

    Not to mention I’ve been concentrating on the same project for a few years now (and it was my first, so it’s been a tremendous learning process). That said, I haven’t exactly been in a position to start a new novel, heh–let alone specifically in November!

    But hey, I know I’ll be starting the sequel next year, so maybe I could write part of it during NaNo. Just depends on where I’m at with it by the time November rolls around.

    • November 2, 2012 4:20 pm

      You know, I had thought a few months back that, since I’m actually working on a rough draft of a book this year, that maybe this year would be a good year for me to do NaNo (albeit by bending the rules a bit). Life intercedes. It’s going to keep interceding for the foreseeable future…

      I think what you’re doing sounds like a good way to go for you. I’ve heard some writers say you should give up after wrestling with a book that takes too many drafts… but then you hear about someone like Patrick Rothfuss whose first book goes gangbusters – and it’s the same book he’d been working on for years and drafting and rewriting over and over. We might not all be as good as he… but it does serve as an example to me that as we learn and grow and improve our craft we’re better able to write/edit/rewrite stories that we couldn’t get right before.

      • November 3, 2012 10:33 am

        Yeah… Patrick Rothfuss is kinda one of my heroes, lol. Everytime I wonder if I can finish my project with satisfaction, I think of how many years he stuck with TNotW.

        The good thing? I’m ain’t at his 7 yet & don’t intend to be. 😛

      • November 6, 2012 9:03 am

        I know what you mean. The “novel-I’ve-been-writing-since-forever”… has literally been in some stage of development for over 20 years (though I haven’t been actively working on it for the whole of those 20+ years; it’s been on-again, off-again over that whole time). So I’m totally right there with you on ho long it’s taken me to write that one. So Rothfuss is definitely an inspiration in that regard.

  5. November 1, 2012 2:13 pm

    I always love the adrenaline rush of NaNoWriMo, but I’ve never actually participated. It’s great to see all the cheering on, and the support for writers, but my inspiration isn’t calendar-driven. Can’t force it. It’s there or it’s not–and in terms of word count, I’ve produced the 50k words in under 30 days, so I don’t feel I need to prove anything.

    I *was* planning on using the momentum of NaNoWriMo to edit a manuscript, but the reality is that I have too much going on to be able to focus on the project properly–and I’d rather wait until the timing and focus are perfect than force it and produce garbage…

    Sometimes timing is everything. But I’m certainly not *against* NaNoWriMo… I believe everyone is different, and some writers need a pseudo-endorsed deadline to get themselves moving. So why not take advantage, if that’s the type of push you need?

    It’s the people who sit on their haunches and critique others (to be clear, it’s those wannabe writers full of snark and negativity in the face of those who are *trying*) that get me irritated… it’s one thing to sit in the peanut gallery and claim you can do better–it’s quite another to show me… 😉

    • November 2, 2012 4:32 pm

      Yeah, the timing has never been right for me – not since I first learned of NaNo. But unlike you, I’ve never done 50,000 words in a single month, so I do still feel like I have something to prove… Oh well…

  6. November 1, 2012 5:43 pm

    Actually, I was thinking that NaNoWriMo was a special writing month during which you targeted 50,00 words. Not that you had to write a single novel of that size from start to finish. I’m gonna have to revert my position on this. That’s not quite what I want to do, and I don’t believe this is as interesting. Oh well.

    • November 1, 2012 7:40 pm

      It can be a 50,000-word novel, a 100,000-word novel, 50K worth of shorts stories or essays or poems… There’s a whole world of proud “NaNo Rebels” out there who take the basic premise of NaNo — “Write! Write some more! Write even more than that!” — and take it in whichever direction they wish. I am one such free spirit. Two novels in November, whoo-hoo!

      • November 2, 2012 9:51 am

        After all, it’s not like the NaNo Police will come and take your words away if you bend (or even break) the rules 🙂

    • November 2, 2012 4:38 pm

      Yeah, technically there are rules. You can’t work on a previously-started manuscript, for instance. That said… I know a lot of people online who are “doing” NaNo, and very few of them are following the rules to the letter. The general goal: “write 50,000 words in 30 days” seems to be the only thing that really binds the NaNo community together.

  7. November 2, 2012 3:47 pm

    I have done Nano a couple of times, and while it was fun, I don’t intend to do it again. Time is a big factor, since my priorities have been far, far away from writing. I found I also got caught up in all the “it has to be done this way, no editing as you go, etc etc,” rather than focusing on just practicing getting words on the page. So I’m all for NaNo Rebels, NoNoWrimos, and anybody doing NaNo as well, because you gotta find what works for you and go with it. 🙂

    • November 2, 2012 4:41 pm

      Yes, yes, and yes, absolutely. 🙂

      I still hope to do it someday. Just to feel what it’s like.

      On the other hand… I’ve crunched numbers that tell me that if, in theory, I were a fullt-time novelist, I could easily do 50,000 words in a single month. (Based on the rate at which I’ve been able to produce new content on an hourly basis when I’m able to sit down for more than an hour at a time to write.) But that’s theory. In practice I really don’t know if I could sustain it.

  8. November 3, 2012 1:44 am

    I’m not doing it this year, but I love NaNo and will (fingers crossed) do it next year. I just can’t commit the time this year. Between school runs with the 5 year old and a very adventurous and time-consuming 1 1/2 year old, I’m lucky to get 5 minutes to myself all day.

    In my experience, it gets easier once they hit about 3 years old. That’s about when they can play without constant supervision and they’re less likely to climb up the bookcase and fall off the top shelf. (Or is that just my kids?)

    By next year, my eldest will be 6 and at school all week, and my youngest will be close to turning 3. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to it.

    • November 6, 2012 9:06 am

      Yeah, that’s how I expect my next several years to go. Toddler, new baby, and not a whole heckuva lotta time. So I doubt I’ll be able to give it an honest go any time soon.

      And my son hitting school in a few years won’t really help me, either – because I’ll still be at work all day, and he’ll be home from school long before I get home from work.


  1. NoNoWriMo | The Undiscovered Author

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