Random Inspirations

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NaNoWriMo: One Size Fits All?

on November 7, 2013

So many of my writer friends and acquaintances are currently caught up in the NaNoWriMo word-gasm. I think NaNoWriMo is an awesome idea — it motivates us to write, and it’s an ideal use for a blah month like November, when the days seem shorter and darker even in Southern California. But although NaNoWriMo has its merits, I’m not participating in it this year.

I know what you’re thinking, especially if you’re an enthusiastic advocate of NaNoWriMo: Why not?! And it’s true — this year would be the perfect time for me to immerse myself in NaNoWriMo, since it’s my first November of writing full-time. But, knowing my writing habits and my self-imposed deadlines, I have arrived at the inevitable conclusion that NaNoWriMo is not for everyone.

Here’s why I think NaNoWriMo just isn’t one-size-fits all.:

  1. We all have different writing paces: Writers are like runners. Some of us resemble sprinters, and can churn out high word counts in relatively short periods of time. Others are more like long-distance runners; it’s as if our minds have more slow-twitch muscle fibers, and we write at a slower and steadier pace. NaNoWriMo is a great challenge for sprinters, not so much for long-distance runners.
  2. We all have different writing techniques: Some writers plow through their novels feverishly, frantic to set everything swirling in their brains to paper (or at least to a Word doc). They worry about the edits later. Others plod along more deliberately, rereading what they wrote during their last session, making some changes, and starting the next part. There’s no right or wrong, but the first kind of writer is much better suited to NaNoWriMo. And I’ll bet you can guess which type I am (#2 all the way, for better or for worse:)
  3. We may have more pressing deadlines: Last weekend, I was talking about NaNoWriMo with a screenwriter friend, and we both agreed that, with our current deadlines (self-imposed for me, work-imposed for her) we had no time to write a novel this month. And it’s true: NaNoWriMo requires a tremendous amount of discipline and dedication. It’s kind of like training for a marathon — you have to give it your all, and it has to be priority #1 in your life, at least for November!
NaNoWriMo is kind of like training for a marathon.

NaNoWriMo is kind of like training for a marathon.

What do you think of NaNoWriMo? Are you word-gasming or holding back? Does your writing pace and / or technique lend itself to taking part in the NaNoWriMo challenge, or make it nearly impossible? I’d love to hear your opinions!

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