Sunday, October 31, 2021

Why I Don't NaNoWriMo


By Claire Booth

November begins tomorrow and that’s a very big deal here in NovelLand. It marks the start of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It started in 1999 as just a thing—get your butt in a chair and get down 50,000 words of a novel, aka a rough draft. It has turned into a motivational tour de force, and now hundreds of thousands of people participate every year.*

I am not one of them.

I can’t write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m much, much slower than that. And I'm fine with that.

I can’t write and then go back and fix it later. If it needs to be fixed, it get fixed then and there. Instead of writing quickly and then doing many more drafts to shape and mold it, I write like a tortoise and then need only one more draft to get it into shape.

I also am not an outliner (for a great glimpse at someone who is, see yesterday’s post by Scott D. Parker). They might write quickly, but they do a lot of their heavy lifting beforehand. I’m quite literally making it up as I go, and that takes time, my friends.

I probably reach the finish line about the same time as a NaNoWriMo-style writer, I just get there by a very different route than someone who can produce 50,000 words and wait until they’re finished to go back and revamp them. (I’m sure there are those few blessed individuals who can dash off that many words in a month that are glitteringly perfect right from the start—but I’ve certainly never met one of them.)

So as people all over the world sit down tomorrow to start a novel, I’ll be with you in spirit, but not in practice. Happy writing.

 *It also has spawned a non-profit organization, a school curriculum, and a mentorship organization. For more, go to


1 comment:

Dana King said...

I'm with you, but for a different reason. I typically write at least 1500 words a day when drafting, so I could extend myself a little to get to 50,000, but why? I see NaNoWriMo as a gimmick. Does it motivate people? I guess so. But what do they do after they slam 50,000 words onto their hard drive? And do they finish if the book needs to be 52,000 words, or are they burned out?

My practice is to use the first draft as raw material for the real work or rewriting and editing. That said, there's a limit to how crappy I'll let it be. What about those who are pantsers and find they are writing themselves into a corner? Do they throw that work away (and thus "fail" to meet their artificial goal), or do they power through to have a "successful" NaNoWriMo and a shitty draft they may well throw away?