Why are you participating in NaNoWriMo?
It’s November! I’m not entirely sure how it’s November. I mean, last time I checked a calendar I swore it was June or something, but I guess it’s time to catch up! And with November every year comes NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing event for authors and aspiring authors are screenplay writers (and all kinds of writers really :p) to come together and write 50,000 words by December.
But what is 50,000 words? How long are published books?
Many of you non-writers or brand new writers may not have any idea what 50,000 words looks like. So, here’s a couple numbers to get your oriented.
Harry Potter and the Socrerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling: 76,944 words
The Fellowship of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein: 187,790 words
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin: 298,000 words
Now this is just a couple examples and definitely not status quo, but as you can see, 50,000 words is not usually a full novel (depending on your genre.) As a result, NaNoWriMo, in my opinion, is falsely advertising as National Novel Writing Month because one doesn’t complete a novel in the month. It’s simply a starting point.
My Experience with NaNo
My first time participating in NaNoWriMo was in November 2012. I was in college, had way too much time on my hands (especially around the Thanksgiving holiday), and finished my 50,000 words in five days during my Thanksgiving break. (Yes, I had no life.)
However, I’m not trying to intimidate anyone with my word count. Rather, I want to focus on the aftermath. I wrote 50,000 words towards my first novel, but NaNo didn’t push enough for me to continue. It didn’t have the requirements in December of other subsequent months to keep me on the bandwagon to finish writing and then edit. So, that novel got pushed away for two years.
NaNo for Networking
Many writers claim that NaNo may be good for networking. After all, there are hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of other writers out there participating and knowing the struggles you’re going through. Heck! Some of them may even be in your area. That’s great! You can go to a local write-in and join them. Except… here’s the caveat.
America does not possess a dense population.
Unless you live in a big city or on the outskirts of a big city, you could have a very low population density. What’s more, even fewer of those people are writers. As a result, despite my efforts, I lived in areas where, if I wanted to network with other NaNoers, I’d have to drive 1.5 hours just to get see them for 1 hour a week. That math doesn’t add up in my mind.
NaNo for the Experienced Writer
As I have stated above, NaNoWriMo is designed for writers to get started on their books. Yes, it talks about December edits and continuing a draft in December, but it has no implementation, no networking, no set-up to support this. So, many novels fall to the wayside. All those new writers burn out after 50,000 words in 30 days and never get back to their novel… not even next NaNo.
The only people who might continue working on their novel are the experienced writers, those who have finished writing a novel/screenplay/what-have-you, those who have trudged through the writing trenches and know all the parts of writing a novel, not just the first draft. They are the ones who stick to writing their novel after NaNo, but they’re also the ones who don’t need NaNo.
Let me put it to you this way: if one needs NaNo to start a novel, one doesn’t currently have the motivation to start a novel on their own. However, an experienced writer has likely started a novel outside of NaNo and done editing and second drafts and third drafts, and more. They don’t need an event to tell them to work on their book.
So… if that’s the case, what’s the point in participating? If you already know how to kick yourself in the butt to draft, edit, and polish a novel, what’s the point in wasting valuable time striving to reach a goal in an event that you don’t need to improve your writing?
These are the questions I ask myself this year as I stare at NaNoWriMo and hear about it from some of my other writer friends. I know some who are participating. I know some who aren’t. Each for their own reasons.
Yet, my reasoning is simple: I have slogged through the grime of drafting, editing, polishing, and even querying a novel. I know how to write. I have written 50,000 words in five days, 80,000 words in 12. I don’t need an event to inspire me, motivate me, or push me to write. I can do that on my own. For that reason, I don’t feel NaNoWriMo is relevant or helpful for me, and it’s why I will no longer be participating in NaNo.
Tell me in the comments below what you think about NaNoWriMo. I want to hear all about it! ^.^
And check out my discussion from last week: