NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place globally in November every year.
What is NaNoWriMo? Well according to them it’s: a nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds — on and off the page.
That’s a bit fluffy for me, so here’s what it basically is: a challenge for you to write 50,000 words towards the first draft of your novel in 30 days.
I took part in 2019 for the first, and probably last, time. Here’s why.
In 2019 I’d started my writing again seriously and was really enjoying it. My main project was a fan project that I started mid-late 2019 – I was adapting a graphic novel to a novel. I’m pretty much finished with it now, it’s currently going through its final edits and then it’ll be done, and I’m very, very proud of it.
At the time I was kinda struggling with it so, in principle, NaNoWriMo sounded like a great motivational tool to help me get through it and get a huge chunk of it drafted. Remember, the point is to draft, not perfect.
So I begun to treat my fan project as a NaNoWriMo project, as I had barely started it. I aimed for between 1000-3000 words a day. That way if I fell behind a little bit I could catch-up on others.
For the first week I really enjoyed it – I felt energised and focussed. But very quickly after that I began to feel drained, forced and unmotivated. I’d stay up late or get up early to try and get my word count in, I would also end up being late to make my meals and other things and NaNoWriMo got in the way of ‘real life’.
But the big thing for me – my writing, which I loved to do – began to feel like a chore. It quickly fell from something I did for the love of it, to something that I felt like I had to do. And that was something I never, ever wanted to happen. Especially as this piece of writing was a fan piece, so it was even more of a project done for love.
To feel like I was having my passion for something drained out of me for someone else’s predetermined schedule was a killer – both creatively and spiritually. It’s because of this I’ve vowed to never do NaNoWriMo or any other time-dependant writing challenge again.
My writing – my rules.
Now I’m NOT saying that NaNoWriMo won’t work for others – because that’s a stupid thing to say, especially as there have been some HUGE successes from it. I’m also NOT discouraging others from taking part. If you reckon it could work for you, by all means, please do try it. I just wanted to share my reasons why it didn’t work for me.
I also wanna say that I didn’t take part in the ‘community’ aspect of it, and don’t even know what it entails. To me, it was already sounding overwhelming and I didn’t need yet another social media style thing to keep up with. So perhaps if you try this and experience creative burnout this could help you – I just know it wouldn’t help me.
So what am I saying? Well, I guess it boils down to: have a think about what kind of writer you are, and how you cope with deadlines and goals set by an outside entity on your creative works before you start this challenge.
I personally found this challenge to be stifling, but I wish anyone who wants to take part in NaNoWriMo every success and hope it works for them.
I’m going to continue to write during November (as I do every month) but I’ll be working on my own original novel as well as a few short stories to try and get uploaded here, as so far (at time of writing) I’ve only got one short story written for my website! If you wanna check it out you can do that here! And most importantly – I’ll be working to my own schedule!
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