Whether you're doing NaNoWriMo or not this year, it's a good idea to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you need to thrive as a writer.
Preaching to the choir.
I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time since I've sworn off the event in 2019 (my reasons were slightly different; I felt it lost focus and things like Preptober and Camp NaNoWriMo took away from what made it special). In fact, I used to ANTICIPATE failure for NaNoWriMo. And like you, I used to feel really bad about not clocking 1667 words every single day. But it's not just about the words. It's about CONSISTENCY. Once I made peace with that, and learned that if I wanted to be successful, I should at least show up, then I was winning as a writer, and succeeding at NaNoWriMo in my own way.
This year I'm using NaNoWriMo as an excuse to really do some damage on my novel, but unlike previous years, I really don't care if I hit 50,000 words. I know where the story is going, and as long as I'm getting it out of my head and onto paper, I at least have some tangible clay that I can mold.
Thank you for everything you said. In the past, I’d look at NaNoWriMo announcements, I’d feel a twinge of “something” I couldn’t put my finger on, and keep it moving. But I’ve been working on my first novel since 2017, so I figured this year, I’d sign up. And did, and that twinge of “something” I felt in the past, revealed itself as pressure and anxiety, and I haven’t participated. I kinda feel bad, and kinda don’t. It’s not for everybody, but like commenter Sylvie said, for her, it’s not about the words, it’s about consistency. So that’s what I’m working on; consistently showing up for my writing.
NaNoWriMo has never been something I was interested in doing because I know me. I am not a quantity writer. I edit as I go and having a daily word count murders my enjoyment in the process. I wish the people who do it luck, but I don't foresee it ever being for me.
Thanks for this gut-level share. I'm sure that many kindreds will come out of the woodwork for this one.
This my tenth NaNoWriMo (way more if you count Camps), and my relationship to it is different every time. I have definitely been where you're talking about. And just like some folks have the constitution to be a medical doctor, most of us do not. I certainly do not. And writing 1666 a day, every day, is not really sustainable for me.
Some years I participate only to spread the joy and spirit of it. Others it has been super helpful. I owe six finished manuscripts to NaNo and possibly my whole enterprise as a novelist. The past couple years, it's been more about making significant headway rather than a number. My body is ten years older, too, and I don't want to push myself so hard. It won't work anyway. It stopped working well about three years in. So, yes. Let us be kind to ourselves with or without NaNoWriMo!
Love this Sarah, thank you for sharing. I write non-fiction and along with some of my coaching clients am writing every day for November but only 100 words a day or so, the idea is just to connect with the research daily in a life giving way.
Well, I loved this column, Sarah. You touched on about a hundred familiar feelings, thoughts, laments. I, too, have loved the idea of NaNoWriMo far more than I've ever been able to complete one. In fact, I have failed consistently for years in the attempt. Enough so that this year I didn't even officially enter or try to make up a new name for a novel I imagined writing. Except: I am not a novel writer. Don't have the whatever it is to even go down that road despite loving the IDEA of it. Short stories it apparently is because I can't sustain a narrative beyond a few pages. Shake my head. I don't even especially like reading short stories. I don't get the contradiction, but there it is.
I have two friends who have completed the 50,000 word slog. One rented a home in Albuquerque for the month (she had time and money, imagine that!) because that was the setting for her historical work. The other friend wrote letters to dead people for a month and 50,000 words was so easy that she finished by Thanksgiving. Although I sort of sniffed to myself that was cheating (dead people letters!), it was not. She was writing, writing, writing daily.
Thanks for this, especially this month. My hopes for NaNoWriMo this month vanished by November 2. There is always next year, though, right?
NaNo is good for starting out and getting a new writer thinking about goals and ways to accomplish them. But I agree with you that for some, it can be discouraging. I did it once, and sure enough, by the end of November, I had a 60,000-word novel completed. Oh, wait, that was by the end of November, two years later! But I got to meet some other local writers, found a few new coffee shops, and explored how I don't do well with impossible deadlines. Yet, I knew I would never make it in one month, but the journey was worth it.
As always, Sarah, it's kind of you to share your insights, struggles, and perspectives. Perhaps there are young writers who will see it and say it's okay if I do my best.
This is my first NaNoWriMo thing. I sort of wanted to try it. I joined a writing group a few months back across town. We gather talk for a moment then write. I definitely feel good writing. My novel I'm working on coincides with NaNoWriMo. I've been doing good. I feel I improved myself this year. I know the novel I'm working won't be done this month.I know I need a editor for other stuff I wrote so I can publish in the future.