Why I Can Never Compete in NanoWrimo…

Okay, this is a personal confession, although I am an author I have never competed in NanoWrimo. For those of you who do not know what this is it is New Novel November Month. Pretty much you write an entire novel in one month. I know, as an author, I feel ashamed for admitting the fact that I’ve never competed or done this, but I want to explain the reason why this has been out of my particular reach. Since it is now December I feel as though this is the perfect post because, alas, I did not compete this past November 😦

I’ll be the first to admit, it’s my writing process. Especially for new novels. I am not sure if this is unique to me or if lots of other authors do it, so I am interested in hearing other people’s viewpoints on this. For first drafts of novels I HAVE to write it out freehand first and then go back and type up everything. I don’t know what it is, but that is how it is done for me. When I finish with a whole notepad of chapters, I plop it down in front of me, turn on my Pandora music and then type them all up just listening to music. The whole process is actually very relaxing for me. But, with this process comes twice the amount of work, I know. Trust me I have tried writing it all on the computer first, but it’s hard. I think this happens for a few reasons:

  1. With writing online comes all the distractions of online too. Too easily do I find myself checking my Facebook, or if someone posted a new comment on my novel on Wattpad.
  2. Staring at that blank screen just doesn’t appeal to me. The cursor blinking me and mocking me for having no thoughts to jot down. Something I cannot handle.
  3. With a pen in my hand I feel more of an author, you know? I see the pad I need to write and thoughts just come to me. It allows me to organize my thoughts better and rearrange ideas if need be by simply circling the passage in question and drawing an arrow to where I need to place it.

On top of my crazy writing process, I feel as though I shouldn’t be starting a new novel. I am honestly floored when I hear other authors who are working on 3 – 4 books at once. For one, how do you have that much time? And Secondly, how do you have that many ideas? It’s craziness. For me as being a series writer and currently working on the second novel in my series of either 4 or 5 books, I just couldn’t imagine starting a new storyline when I still have one unfinished. I know I’ll need a new idea eventually and I actually do have another idea for a story once this one is done, but I just can’t start writing a new novel when I should be focused on what is here and right now.

Now, although I do not participate in New Novel November Month, it does not mean I do not write constantly. My original goal was to have the first draft of my second novel done by the end of November. However, I was lazier in October than I should have been so now I am pushing that to end of December. For the past couple weeks in November I have been consistently writing one chapter per day in my second novel and am less than 20 chapters from finishing it (I think anyways).

Personally, that is what writing is, persistence. I really do appreciate what NanoWrimo does in encouraging authors to start a story, but here is where I think the program goes wrong. By encouraging to someone to write a whole novel in a month you are pretty much telling them “do not have a social life” or have less of one. That is the quickest way to get burnt out and when you get burnt out at writing you are officially done. You won’t want to come back to the keyboard or pick up the pen again. That is why, in my opinion, slow and steady wins the race. I make it kind of a goal to get a chapter done per day, even in revisions. If you did that you would have a great polished novel done by the end of a year. (With taking breaks too.)

By simply writing a chapter per day, you ease your workload and still can have a social life which is very necessary for authors—we are people watchers after all. It’s like when parents tell their children they can’t play video games until they get their homework done. For me, I can’t go out with my friends until I get at least one chapter done, and as long as I do that I know that I will have another piece of work coming out in a decent amount of time.

What do other authors think about these things? Do you have a certain process you take while writing? What is it? Do you participate in NanoWrimo? Have you been successful in it?

All pretty interesting questions that I would love feedback on. Take care and keep writing!

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6 thoughts on “Why I Can Never Compete in NanoWrimo…

  1. I take the unconventional route of writing my books without an outline. I type my first draft on Word in silence. As I type, I pull ideas inspired from my imagination and life events. Yes, I participated in NaNoWriMo. This is my first year participating. I didn’t start writing until Nov 10ish, because my life outside of writing has priority. To answer your question, I was not successful.

    1. I am sorry to here that @hellocatheri 😦 I do not know how you can write a book without an outline. That is crazy. Talk about stream of consciousness. Is there any reason you do not use outlines? They are very nice and for me I just put every chapter on a notecard and it gives me a game and a goal to look forward to. I finish one notecard a day (or I try to) and I just keep track of my progress with a board that I stick the notecards to.

  2. I participated in NaNo this year and finished just over 50K. I love NaNo. I just let my guard down and write. I averaged just over 2k a day and finished November 24. I write in 500 – 750 word sprints. NaNo, for me, is basically one big long outline. I write the 50K, and then I end up rewriting the entire novel. But I love it 🙂

    1. Tracy,

      That is fantastic. I am glad NanoWriMo works for you. I think writing is definitely a process that is so different for everyone. My whole thing, like you mentioned, is that I would have to spend the time rewriting the entire novel anyways. To me, that is a lot of work. 😦

      Granted, I know there are revisions in any story, no first draft is perfect, but I just feel that I would be too rushed in NanoWrimo. Maybe if I have my outline for my Third Novel completely done by next November I’ll participate in it 🙂 And see how much of it I can get done.

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