Friday, November 1, 2013

Why NaNo's Not for Me



This is that time of year people lose their sanity and sign up for the monster novel writing rush of the year. Kudos to you! The idea that one could, during holiday season nonetheless, write something like 2,000 words a day - every day, unless you want to heap the extra unwritten words on the next day - frankly astounds me. you, you crazy writers you, you amaze me.

But it will not be me.

Not last year, or the one before that, or the one before that. Not this year, and not any future year, unless I am invaded by the soul of Stephen King or Danielle Steele or some equally prolific writer.

Before anyone else asks me whether or not I'm up for this, here are my reasons why I won't be NaNoing.

1. I write consistently on a normal basis. I think NaNo is a great motivation for people who don't write all the time - who need some external push, something to strive for and a community to write in. It gives a reason to sit the butt in the chair every single day. We all need challenges sometimes. That's why I recently did one with a few of my writing group friends. I need the challenge that comes with accountability to push forward when I am letting my fears keep me from going forward. But mostly, I am a writer. All the time.

2. I write slowly. Honestly, every other reason somewhat hinges on this. Some people are fast writers. Some people can be fast writers for a short time, if they need to be. I can never write fast. Never. If I manage 2,000 words in a day (I think I've done that three or four times in my entire career), it is because I had hours and hours to write. And I pretty much knew what I was going to write. But on average, 1,000 words is a really great day for me. And I've discovered that those days add up if there are enough of them strung together.

3. Stress is not something I need more of. My life is already more stressed than I want it to be. I am going in more directions than I'd like. I like being busy, and I like having purpose, but I don't like when that starts interfering with being the best me and mom I can be. Having an artificial deadline hanging over my head is something my blood pressure doesn't need, especially when the daily goals are already beyond my abilities.

4. I have a job now. I know, I know - probably the majority of people doing NaNo have a job. On top of parenting, I mean. I have been spoiled for the last fifteen years. Raising my kids has been my number one job, and that takes up most of my waking hours. Writing is something I consider a job, but not one I have to answer to anyone about other than me. Now I am adding 20-30 hours of work, and I think I am not as talented as the rest of you who have figured out how to juggle parenting, writing, and a job. I bow to your awesomeness. I don't know how you do it.

5. It is November. Hello? Short month, six weekdays off for my kids and husband, still high school football/marching band season, holiday in which we are hosting not only extended family but also half the British embassy. I'm not sure I'm going to make it even without the NaNo.

6. I would be setting myself up to fail. I am a slow writer, I am busy and stressed. I am a pathetically slow writer. All this is established. The thing is, I can look at this kind of challenge and know that I am defeated before I begin. If I missed one or two days, making those up would become utterly unmakeupable. And there is no way I could not miss one or two days.

7. I am on the eighth or ninth draft of this novel. I do not need a ton of rough pages. I need some really, really good ones. Ones that will be the last I write on this novel outside of very minor edits.

This is not to say I don't enjoy a good challenge. On Sept. 15, Brit challenged me to write 100 pages in 45 days, and I wrapped that up yesterday with 107 new pages for my now well-under-way novel.  It was about half what NaNo would be, with 15 more days to write. But I did it - every day at least a little. And 45 days later, I have some pages I am really proud of.

So I won't be NaNoing this month, but I know what it takes to do that, and I am impressed by those taking that challenge. I can't wait to see what you come up with, how this month challenges and changes you. I hope you get a novel out of it. Or the start of something good anyway. Check in every now and then, when your eyes are blurry and your fingers sore, and let me know how you are doing. :)

10 comments:

  1. I tried NaNo once and had to stop because, like you, I'm a slow writer. I didn't see the logic in writing fast just for the sake of writing fast, and then having to go back and try to make sense of it all.
    I think it works better for those who have some sort of outline ready, but I'm doing edits now and want my energy to go into that.

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    1. I'm in the same place, Kathryn. Well, maybe not really edits. More like revising. But it's not a NaNo-appropriate place in my process. Good luck on your edits this month!

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  2. Are you sure you didn't just read my mind and write down my reasons why I'm not doing Nano except for 1 (I need to write more often) and 5 (November is the lead in the crazy month of December).

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    1. I think you and I just share the same brain, sometimes, Patti. We are writing soulmates that way. :)

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  3. So, you me and Patti. I am starting a new project (which is MG and about half the 50,000 word length of Nano) and I don't even think I can manage that...I say after one day. For reasons mostly MY KIDS. Who I love and gladly relinquish word counts for. However, I am feeding off the NaNo energy I decided, and writing more than I usually write.

    Oh, and I can't write fast either. The idea is still forming as I write and I revise as I write so I don't have to revise so much later. It's just how I do it, and it works for me in a not-fast way.

    Good luck with the British Embassy. Wow, I mean--jolly good.

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    1. I think it's great if you can plug into that energy and let it spur you on. I know many people really get back to writing, or get energized again by it. But when you have kids... the balance is just hard. Given a choice between making a word count and watching my kids at a football game, the kids will always win.

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  4. I'm hoping to get down 100 rough pages this month. Poems I can turn out and brush up in a couple of days. My novel idea has been in my head for seven years, and I figure this will be a good inspiration to sit down and actually get the words on the page so I can see what I'm doing. Then I plan to do the Pacific thing, grab my favorite books off the shelf, and pick them apart so I can make it sound good.
    Great reasons here. :) I definitely agree that it's kind of a crazy goal, and a lot of the work is probably not spectacular.

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    1. 100 pages would be awesome, Hannah! You have the right idea about how to "use" NaNo. When you are just starting, don't worry about how good it is. I know a lot of crappy stuff comes out of NaNo, but the problem with NaNo is not the crappy stuff.... it's people who think that what they wrote under that kind of pressure is good enough to submit. Write the words. Get it all down. Have fun with it. Then come back to it in January and figure out how to make it shine. :) I can't wait to hear how it goes for you!

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  5. Knowing yourself and the best writing practice for you creates a smoother pathway to success. You got that going! Sometimes I drag myself into things because others are doing it which I did a couple years ago when I joined up for NaNo. It did get me writing, and I did achieve my goal, however I felt guilty that I did not have time to comment in the forums and support groups!

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    1. Guilt... another reason I don't do NaNo. :)

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