Saying no to NaNo

It’s that time of year when writers across the world are sharpening their pens, choosing a new notebook and pulling out their story outlines ready for Nov 1st. Yes, it’s nearly time for National Novel Writing Month. It’s also time for my annual post about why I won’t be taking part – yet again.

I love the concept of NaNoWriMo. Anything that gets people writing, from complete novices to published writers, is a great thing. I first heard about it in 2010 not long after I joined Twitter and was fascinated by the idea. I’ve always struggled with consistency in finding time to write and the idea of penning 50,000 words in 30 days seems like the impossible dream.

I’ve always promised myself that I’ll do it but once again this year I’ll be absenting myself. As ever, the timing isn’t great. I’m currently editing one book ready for an agent pitching session in November and possible future self-publishing and have had to stop writing new words on Book Three as a result (despite it progressing quite nicely). I also at some stage have to start editing the novella I wrote in the summer as well. So, you see, there’s not really time to do NaNo in the way I would want to.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, I wouldn’t be happy unless I met the challenge and emerged blinking into December with 50K of new material. Writing about 1,600 words a day, every day, for 30 days, while trying to do ordinary things like going to work and housework, sounds completely exhausting. I suspect I’d need 30 days off from everything afterwards to recover! I love writing, but part of the fun of it for me is that it’s in my gift. Somehow, no matter how tired I am in the morning, I still manage to do some words, even if it’s like getting blood from a stone. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a deadline – at least, not one set by someone else – so despite my plans to self-publish it still feels like it’s just me having fun.

A deadline like NaNoWriMo is a very effective way to get yourself to write and write quickly, but it can’t be undertaken lightly. Having to write that many words in such a short time needs planning and preparation. Not only do you need to make sure you have a plan for your story and an outline to work from, I’d strongly advise getting your computer checked and making sure you have somewhere to safely back up your work. Getting to the end of the month and finding that your work has disappeared would be heart-breaking.

So, if you’re gearing up for NaNo, I wish you all the luck in the world. Make sure you enjoy it. I wish I could be joining you, but duty – and an existing WIP – calls I’m afraid. I look forward to seeing everyone’s NaNo stories on Twitter and if you have any tips or advice, please leave them in the comments section below.

Good luck!

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