National Novel Writing Month is starting in just a few days. I’m wondering, are you in this year? Or are you out? I used to dive into NaNoWriMo haphazardly—it was a given I’d participate. Now I consider more carefully whether NaNoWriMo will serve me. This year, to make my decision, I thought about things like where I’m at in my writing journey, but I also thought about where I’m at in my personal life and my physical and emotional well-being.
I started NaNoWriMo last year, but I shouldn’t have. I should have listened to my body and my gut instincts. I was already exhausted and burned out when November 1st rolled around. But something, whether fear of missing out or fear of losing my own momentum or an unhealthy competitiveness or drive to succeed, called to me. So I started NaNoWriMo, but it was an awful experience. I dropped out on November 16th and I wrote about it in a blog post called Knowing When to Quit. I wrote, “This time, quitting when it was against my nature to quit felt like the win. I felt like I had my life back, a creative life I’ve worked hard to build over the last two and a half years. I felt joy.”
I’m not going to participate this year either, but I know I will at least consider it every year. I’m already thinking I will likely participate in 2023. But this year, it doesn’t align with my goals. I’m deep into rewriting and revising a book. In fact, I’ve entered it into a contest, it just made it into the top 100, and I have to upload the completed manuscript by midnight tomorrow night. I am working half days this week and late into the night in order to get it done. (Wish me luck!) So, I’ll be done by November 1st, one way or another, but my focus is on that book right now, and I don’t want to break that focus to work on something new. Plus, I have a feeling I’ll need a break after midnight tomorrow night. And I have to learn to take those breaks when I need them.
But with any luck, next year, I’ll be ready to write something new, and I think NaNoWriMo is a great kickstarter for that. In fact, I started writing the novel I’m working on now in NaNoWriMo 2013, my first year participating in the event. The 50,000+ words I wrote in November 2013 bear little resemblance to the novel I’m working on now, for many reasons. I mean, for one, that’s the nature of writing and rewriting and revising. But also, I didn’t go into it with any sort of plan. I considered myself a pantser. Now, I would never go into something like that without a thorough plan, because writing that off-the-cuff and that quickly, I came out of it with something that was barely a synopsis of a story I wanted to write. Much of it was exhaustive prose filler because I needed to hit that daily word count. I couldn’t use any of it for the rewrite except some of the basic plot and story ideas.
And guess what? It doesn’t need to be November for you to plan your book and set a goal to write for a certain amount of time each day or to reach a daily word or page count. If you’d like a book coach to help you with the planning and the process of writing that first draft, in preparation for NaNoWriMo or otherwise, please contact me. Helping new writers is my superpower.
Whether you’re a planner or a pantser or a combination of the two, here are a few posts I’ve written about NaNoWriMo that might help you decide whether to participate this year and that might help you make the best of the opportunity if you do:
NaNoWriMo: Preparing for 50,000 Words