Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo

Wolfman's Books by Kyle J. Glenn
Wolfman’s Books by Kyle J. Glenn


I know, I’m a writer not doing National Novel Writing Month? It’s practically an unofficial writer requirement at this point, but I have mixed feelings about it. I think it’s great if it excites you and gives you the chutzpah to get cracking on your novel. But from all the guides to “surviving NaNoWriMo” and vague sense of panic currently flooding my Tumblr dashboard, I don’t think I’m the only one who finds NaNoWriMo more stressful than inspiring. Personally I don’t want my writing process to feel like a Terminator apocalypse that I have to survive. I think November is a pretty crummy time to enter a voluntary literary house arrest — who wants to be a sleep-deprived zombie for Thanksgiving and Christmas? I miss the writing projects from undergrad, but I’m still so happy that I don’t have deadlines that I’m not willing to give myself a crazy one now.


Narcissism and Self-Loathing
Ted McCagg’s “Writers Explained” is pretty much perfect.


The more I thought about the crazy deadline and how (woefully) unprepared I would be to start a novel on November 1, the less and less I wanted to start the project at all. (Plus Teddy was completely horrified when I mentioned it to him, and since he’s my resident sounding board and first reader I figured I should pay attention.) I decided that the timing wasn’t great for me, so why not use the NaNoWriMo start date as an inspiration for my own personal goal? The other day my friend Erin reblogged this simple plan that only requires you to write 350 words a day for 260 days out of the year, so I decided to set my own (manageable) goals for next month: I’m hoping to write 5 scenes over that month, and if I’m really prolific, maybe 10. That seems so piddly compared to 50,000 words, but honestly I’m totally fine with that! I really want to set up a writing routine that works for me all year.


I definitely don’t want to crush anyone’s NaNoWriMo hopes and dreams – if you’re excited for it, go for it! But if you’re anything like me and you’re worried about stressing yourself out so much that writing becomes a chore, or beating yourself up if you don’t make it to 50,000 words, set your own goals. Get what you want out of NaNoWriMo, and you’ll succeed whether you make it to 2,000 or 50,000 words.


Whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or not, here are some links for various writing resources that might be helpful:

  • How to write quickly… good resource for anyone doing NaNoWriMo, or anyone who has to beat a deadline.
  • The Elephant Technique… this blew my mind, and might be one of the best (and simplest) writing tips I’ve read. Unless you’re writing a story about elephants, in which case you might want to make it the “Platypus Technique.” Also a guide to NaNo/ novel Prep.
  • If thinking about writing dialogue stresses you out (I can’t be the only one, right?), this list of resources should help calm you down.
  • Honestly Fix Your Writing Habits  and Clever Girl Helps are both chock-full of helpful information. Austin Kleon’s Tumblr is pretty awesome too.
  • Ten Things I’d Like to Say to Young Writers. Again, Chuck Wendig is not exactly safe for work – or your grandma – but he’s not screwing around when it comes to writing advice. This is also a really good kick in the pants for when your enthusiasm starts to (inevitably) fade.
  • This quote is so good that I accidentally reblogged it twice within a month on my writing Tumblr. I also have an “Authors Talking Shop” tag with quotes from various artists, authors, etc. about the creative process.
  • Can I go to this Writer’s Retreat?


Go nuts, you crazy kids! Are you planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year? Do you think I’m a wimp for not doing it? If you’re not, do you have any other writing goals you’re working towards? I’d love to hear!

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