Do You NaNoWriMo?

I have been intrigued by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those not in the know) since its inception back in 1999. *insert ‘holy crap!’ here* Every year I consider participating, and every year I don’t. The usefulness of such a harsh deadline is appealing – sit down, write, get the words out! – especially if one has a rabid internal naysayer who otherwise doesn’t shut up. The goal is to have a finished novel of 50k in 30 days. Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Two thousand words a day easily allows this goal to be met, though woe unto you if you fall behind.

My life has gotten, over the years, decidedly less complicated. My partner and I have an understanding: we work our jobs to pay the bills, and when we come home we want our time to be our own. She’s content to go off and spin or craft, and I want to be left alone to write or read or knit or be with the critters. The unfortunate side effect of working a fulltime job outside of the home is, by the end of the day? I want to not have to use words. I’ll read, but often writing is beyond my ability. Words overwhelm and I just want quiet – and my brain while I’m writing is lots of things, but quiet ain’t one of ‘em.

As November bears down on me, and I find myself slipping further and further behind on my WiP goals (75k by the end of December, which, when I started, was 25k words a month, for three months) I wonder if NaNoWriMo isn’t a solution to helping me get caught up? What do I need to do in order to get caught up?

I need to have my holiday gift projects done. They already almost are, but I have a lot of finishing touches to take care of. Lots of last minute touches actually translates into a lot left to do, even if the bulk of the knitting is finished. I have a bit of vacation time coming up next week, and I’ve already planned to get caught up then.

I need to decide that Fairy Queen can wait for attention. I’m torn here – I’ve been working on this collection in one way or another for 2 years, now. This means that I really want to see it finished and out (and it’s so close to being done!) and I’m also desperately tired of dealing with it and I want to work on new, fresher stuff. It’s likely I’ll compromise here: I’ll work on it as time and brain-power allows, but I’ll turn of the pressure to get it done ASAP.

I need to get the various short stories I’m working on either finished or in a decent stopping place. Including the one I started this morning. Because when one is behind schedule, one obviously is going to get up and bang out 1k words on a new, unconnected tale. Right? I mean, what else?

I know other authors go back and forth about NaNoWriMo’s usefulness. It’s going to work for some and not so much for others. Like any tool, really.

I’ll need, I know, to give up extraneous reading time. Which is always, always where I balk. I can still read: the commute to and from work, and my breaks at lunch will give me an hour of reading time a day. But, I’ll need to scale way back. And I never want to, because I find other folks’ stories as intriguing as my own. With less work. Which is awesome, at the end of the day.

So, I’m also trying to get books that have been hanging around for a long time read before November first. Just in case. (Including, finally, Gods of the Asphault by H.E. Ellis. Halfway done. Likely will finish today, later. Post to follow). And then, I guess well see if I still feel like saying, hey, maybe I’ll do this.

Do any of you NaNoWriMo? Have you before? Did you enjoy it? Did it help your writing? What did you learn from it? Would you do it again?


16 thoughts on “Do You NaNoWriMo?

  1. Chris

    Not enough time in the day or the week. It is hard to prioritize. I have done Nano for three years (this will be my fourth) I love it, i write all year, but it gives me an excuse to dump everything else. I tell my family and friends November is all my month. They get along just fine without me. They have been very than willing, just because they know I love it. Me, my computer and uninhibited writing fills my soul. If Nano stresses you out more than doing it, It won’t be fun. My suggestion is you do what you love and relaxes you, You don’t have to do anything. Sometimes other people and even ourselves ask too much. It’s your life, not anyone else’s. Knit, write, or read. DO IT. Enjoy your life.

    1. Jolene Post author

      I have to thank you — I thought about your comment off and on today, especially the last two lines. It’s absurd, isn’t it? How we can push ourselves to misery without realizing it or meaning to? I love writing — the process should be a joy! But so often I slip into task list mentality and then it’s all about chores, and the joy shrivels up. The guilt of not getting the project done for October that I had planned is weighing me down, and instead of adjusting my plans accordingly, I let it stay hanging over my head *and* add to it. It’s terrible! Today, “Knit, write, or read. Enjoy your life,” was the refrain in my brain, and it was freeing, somehow. Silly. Things we know, that we know we know, and just never apply back upon ourselves. So, yes. Thank you.

  2. Shen Hart

    This will be my 2nd year doing NaNoWriMo. The support network is fantastic, there are so many people on hand to push you on and help you when you get stuck.
    Personally I did really enjoy it, the challenge and the excuse to sit down, shut out the world and get it down. It’s great for my competitive edge as there are plenty of people up for doing ‘word wars’ and other things, as well as the ‘shoutout threads’ and various other bits.

    As for helping my writing way, I believe it did. Of course my nano was written very quickly but it showed me what I can do in that space of time, where I can improve etc. I learned that my competitive streak is a big kick to get me writing and I actually really love novelling!

    1. Jolene Post author

      That’s awesome! I love seeing these things helping people; I’m glad you’ll be doing it again. Ah, word wars reminds me of time spent over at Forward Motion years (ugh, and years) ago. Nano sure does seem to have exploded over the intervening years, and that’s also good. Something that connects otherwise solitary creatures is a very good tool, I think. I hope this one is just as great for you as the first.

  3. Soli

    I’m not doing NaNo, never have either, but I do appreciate the sentiment of not enough hours in the day. I’ve got too many projects now and because of that, I CAN’T do everything every day. It’s now like with my spiritual practices; different days are for different things. If I have a time commitment of something for an hour or more in the evening (right now this includes Italian class, private bellydance lesson, and yoga), I make sure not to overburden myself with other stuff then. This helps.

    And yes, I read daily, waiting for the bus, on the bus, on breaks at work. What else are you supposed to do? 😉

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  5. Nykti

    Me! Oh me! I do! 😀 This’ll be my fourth year.

    I think the one thing to keep in mind while doing NaNo is that it’s a fly by the seat of your pants adventure that will require a buttload of editing and revising when done. I think the one thing that really helps is having a NaNo community so that one can go to write-ins/-outs for support, word wars, etc.

    1. Jolene Post author

      four years! Amazing! I hem and haw over it — I don’t have time to be online much, so the networking aspect isn’t appealing in practice (though in theory it is), and I’d *like* be online more during it, but if I’m going to write AND do the day job (which I must) and do NaNo, i’ll be online even less than I already am, etc., etc., etc. So, I guess I still haven’t decided if I’ll participate officially or not.

      1. Nykti

        if it helps, most NaNo groups have several meet-ups to sit and write (that’s what I meant by write-ins, sorry!), and then chat afterwards. I know that where I live (Winnipeg) has four write-ins, plus several write-outs (“unofficial” writing events by other NaNoers that are not MLs). Bigger cities like Toronto often have two or three write-ins a week so that everyone can go to at least one.

      2. Jolene Post author

        I took a peek at my county’s page on the official site, to see how many folks had registered, and oh my goodness, it’s over 800 people!! Then I remembered that while we are a small city (uh. Compared to what I’m used to, not compared to the region) we do have U of O which likely houses a decent amount of literary majors who enjoy writing and may use this as a great opportunity to get writing done. So, less scary. But more scary for the meet-ups.

        I’m just not an out-and-about person. I love the idea of going to the cafe and getting a hot drink and writing my heart out, but having to lug the computer is annoying in Rainville, and it’s much easier to write at home (with cats and dogs for distraction and company) and faster, since I’m already there. Cafe and hot beveraging is for letting ideas steep and letting myself people watch.

        For something that I go back and forth over (do I do it? Should I? Is it just setting myself up for failure? What’s wrong with me as a writer that I don’t know that I want to, or that I would gain anything from it?), the whole concept is still extremely appealing.

      3. Nykti

        Winnipeg has about 800+ people set with Manitoba as their home region too, but only about 40+ people showed up to the kick-off, and usually only 15+ show up for write-ins. Then again it might be different where you are?

        And that’s completely understandable. I’d say check it out once to see what it’s like. I found many of the writers there are older than me (then again I’m 21 so I’m not that old. Lol.), so it’s a bit harder to relate? Except for writing, that is. I’ve found the online resources NaNo has are also helpful, especially for those who don’t have a region or want to go out. I know our region also has online IRC write-ins to do word wars and stuff like that too. 🙂 I think they’re becoming more popular now, because we only started using it a couple of years ago?

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