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:
Creature Creation


11 thoughts on “{DISCUSSION} NaNoWriMo”

  1. This will be my first time participating in NaNoWriMo. As we start this adventure, I have two novels and a novella done and edited (okay, one is still with the editor). What I plan on getting out of this is not knowing how to FINISH a novel, but in writing full time while also doing the business side of writing. For my part, a standard science fiction is 60-90k range so even a winning NaNo isn’t something I can send to my boss. But if I can manage to maintain the NaNo pace AND manage the other stuff then I am on course to write 5-ish novels a year. Oh, and I living in suburbia so finding an awesome writing group was just a bonus!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If you can get the daily 1,667 words a day it’s approximately 6 novels at 90k words. Factor in bad days and editing and that’s a pace for 5 novels a year. And yes, I signed a contract with HUMAN LEGION PUBLICATIONS for my Sleeping Legion Series. I’m writing a spin-off in British author Tim C. Taylor’s Human Legion world.


  2. I have never taken part in a NaNo and I don’t think I will. This year I thought I might try my hand in it. I’ve heard good things and not so good things. The problem is I don’t have time. Also, the support groups in my area are for romance or murder mystery… which I don’t write. I can network through my other online social media, and I’m growing a readership organically. I can see the benefits for new or upcoming writers to get involved with something like NaNo as they give you a chance to learn from others in the community, but for someone that has an established writing style/ readership I don’t think I’m in need of that. Also I have a habit of burning out if I write too much at one time. I can write for days straight and then can’t write for weeks afterwards, which doesn’t work well if I only have a month with NaNo.
    I can see its popularity but this is something that doesn’t work for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you are along the same thought-pattern as me. I, too, find myself able to bust out words at the drop of the hat only to fall into a drought for weeks. Worst part, I saw NaNo as more of a stressor than anything because I felt like I wasn’t doing well, or being a good writer, if I wasn’t at least on track. Not to mention, I think I’m far too competitive for something that’s meant to be casual. I always wanted to be that first person done or marvel others with my gloriously large word counts. I didn’t focus on the story. And all the stories I’ve written through NaNo have needed some DRASTIC revisions (after sitting on shelves for years. >.>) NaNo is great for new writers, but kind of worthless for advanced writers. And for the record, I think you’re doing great without it, D! ^.^

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think NaNo can be good for ANY writer, because we always have room for growth. Sure, we get different things out of it the farther along we are but there is ALWAYS a way to make it beneficial. Maybe this year you practice writing TWO books at once or a different genre or [fill in the blanks]. You just gotta have an open mind. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t need to write more books. I need to edit, and NaNo isn’t for editing. NaNo is just a stressful date on my calendar that really does nothing for me. :/ Trust me. I’ve done it. I’ve won it. And those drafts are GARBAGE. I’ve written better drafts outside NaNo. So… that’s that. :p


          1. So be a NaNo Rebel and count the words you EDIT that month. Work the program! 😉

            Woohoo, I sound like some cultish zealot. LOL!! Just meant, in a nutshell, that you get out of things what you put into it. Like I said, for me it’s practicing writing and the rest of life. If I shut out the world I could hit those numbers and then some but your body needs food/water and your family needs you…. so for me NaNo is about practicing for balance. And the companionship of other writers helps. Admittedly, I live in suburbia with enough participants to get that out of the event.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. Aww thanks, Melanie. That’s thanks to the support I’ve found through this blog and all the research I do in my ‘free time’. There is still a lot to improve upon but learning is a big part of being a writer… so I guess I’m doing something right. XD

        Liked by 1 person

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