The NaNoWriMo Retrospective

November has rolled on in, and if you’re a writer, that means it’s time for NaNoWriMo.

For those unaware, NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” For the thirty days of November, writers—both serious and hobbyist—are challenged to have completed a 50,000 word novel or a similarly long project by month’s end. Basically, a writer is looking at a word count of 1660 per day.

It’s a lot of words, but at the same time it isn’t. I’ve found that when I’m at the top of my writing game, I can easily get out nearly 2000 words a day. At my lowest, sometimes I won’t write much more than 300. It certainly increases when I have a deadline to meet.

The problem with NaNoWriMo that I’ve had in the past is the absolutely inconvenient timing. Until recent years I was in University, and November marked a frantic period of essays, projects, and finals before the semester ended and we had our Christmas break. It’s a bit hard to accomplish a 50,000 word novel draft when you’ve got classes, assignments, and studying, amongst meeting your basic needs. And this is not counting people who have part-time jobs or people who don’t live at home.

On a side note, this is probably why organizers decided to hold Camp NaNoWriMo during August. It gives the students a fighting chance.

But even after graduating, I’ve found that I can never fully finish NaNoWriMo, despite having the time to spare. Usually life throws little things at me, like opportunities to socialize when I could be writing (I’d rather not be a hermit author, thanks). As I still work retail, the influx on holiday hours also take from my writing time, especially on the weekends, and if I had a full-time position, I’d find myself with fewer hours. Sometimes, I just can’t bring myself to write a vast amount of words.

That’s not to say that I can’t finish projects eventually. Perhaps I’m just not cut out for NaNoWriMo. This used to bother me. What kind of author doesn’t relish the challenge of NaNoWriMo? What kind of writer wouldn’t endeavor with all their heart to reach that 50,000 word mark?

I’ve realized it’s not as big a deal anymore, however, I still think NaNoWriMo is a great concept. Some writers need structure or a goal with a deadline. NaNoWriMo provides that. It encourages writers to do what they’re always told to do: write every day. But it can be an unreasonable goal to some. I think the key in that is to remember that you don’t have to reach 50,000 words on your first, second, or even third go.

If you succeed in reaching the NaNoWriMo goal, reward yourself! You’re awesome!

If you don’t reach it, well, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say you tried your best. And that’s also awesome!

Really, you only fail at NaNoWriMo if you don’t bother to try.

My highest word count for NaNoWriMo currently sits at the 15,000 words I wrote two summers ago during Camp NaNoWriMo. I doubt I will actually beat that count this month, as I’m currently getting ready for a big family trip.

But I’ll reach the NaNoWriMo goal one year. It’s definitely on my to-do list.

Categories: musings, On Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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