We are officially in the NANOWRIMO days and many of us have already done incredible work on story ideas and novels we’ve been meaning to write for a long time now. For those who don’t know, NANOWRIMO is National Novel Writing Month which began back in 1999 and consists of one major challenge: to write 50,000 words in one month (or thirty days)! Any writer can tell you that this is one heck of a challenge on its own to write a novel consisting of 50,000 words - or more - but the challenge really lies in getting it all done on a time crunch. NANOWRIMO offers writers the chance to punch out that story they’ve been carrying around in their minds or even the next book they’ve been meaning to finish.
On many levels it’s the writing marathon some of you might’ve never known about. It is also one I will never participate in AGAIN.
Before I get ahead of myself, I need to clarify a few things. I have already participated in NANOWRIMO last year and found it to be an exhilarating experience. Not only that, but I managed to complete the book I’d been writing as well - now known as The Caged Curse. Nevertheless, as productive as that month was for me, I was completely burnt out by the end of it. After finishing my manuscript I couldn’t even look at my laptop for days because I needed to take the time to recoup.
I have, and will always, support my fellow authors who are taking on the challenge of NANOWRIMO but I respectfully decline any offers to join in from here on out.
Writing is a joy for me. Its something that gets me out of my own head and allows me to fulfill a deep passion of mine. To share stories with the world that would’ve otherwise been locked away in the deep recesses of my imagination is a privilege and a gift for me. One I take very seriously. Something else I take seriously, is my own mental health. Every writer works differently. Some can write in the dead of night, some over month long periods, and some prefer the challenge of NANOWRIMO; to name a few. One thing that remains the constant is that there is no wrong way to write your story. Only that you do it.
But something else that is important is listening to your own self when you’re in that writing process and knowing when to hold off and take those much needed breaks. I have no doubts that I will fall into more writing sprints throughout my writing career, and some even similar to NANOWRIMO in some respects. But I refuse to set a clock above my head and criticize myself if I haven’t reached the same goals as my fellow writers who are also doing the exact same thing. This was something else that severely impacted my thought process during NANOWRIMO. I was thrilled for my fellow writers, don’t get me wrong, they were absolutely excelling in this challenge and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem, in the end, was that this was not a good fit for me.
My writing process consists of following my inspiration and at times pounding out countless words when I have that moment of clarity. Along with detailed plotting stages and thought out drafting, with the occasional plot twist thrown in, I’ve managed to find a system that works for me.
I’ve had fellow writers ask me about my own thoughts on NANOWRIMO and I’ve been honest with them in saying that it wasn’t for me. I hated the forced deadline, the unmet goals, the long hours of forcing out the words that just wouldn’t come and in the end feeling as though I had failed at being the one thing I had dreamed of being for so long. But one thing I have never done, and never will, was discourage them from trying NANOWRIMO for themselves. Despite my seemingly negative experience with this challenge, it was still a worthwhile experience. One that I learned so much from and, in time, learned what my own writing process was in comparison. Through NANOWRIMO I was able to learn what worked for me and what didn’t.
So, when the days come when I don’t write a single word for what feels like forever, to the moments when I post about how I’ve managed to write a couple thousand in one sitting - and sometimes for days at a time - I want to stress that this does not mean that YOUR writing should reflect how I, or any other author for that matter, works. What we’re doing is an art form and should be respected as such. We all work differently and from that, we create absolutely unique stories that fill in those empty spaces on shelves all over the world. Quite a beautiful concept isn’t it?
So no, I will never participate in NANOWRIMO ever again, but I will also never regret having done so in the first place.
I will forever applaud those that take on this worthy challenge!
All the best,