Reasons NOT to join NaNoWriMo

Surprise! I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year and I may not do it ever. Why? First off, for those of you who don’t know NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is a writing contest that takes place in November. It started as a contest among a few writing friends to encourage them to begin a first draft. It continues as a non-profit to encourage writers to write or at least begin by offering accountability. You sign up at www.nanowrimo.com. As a member, you input your word count daily and at the end you upload your manuscript as proof of 50,000 words. Keep in mind it is a contest as well so you can enter to win prizes. They will group writers by region, encouraging local writers to be more connected. We all need writer friends to encourage us along and that extra benefit maybe worth it to you to find friends in your area to grab coffee or create your own face-to-face writers’ group. Another benefit to joining the NaNoWriMo, is they offer you guidance to drafting your book. The month of October they send emails and tips in preparing an outline, mapping characters, or drawing out your world (if fantasy or sci-fi). Lastly, the group offers a writing contest for teachers to include in their classroom. Pretty nifty! However, the ‘novel’ in which you try to complete is only 50,000. I use the term novel loosely because any writer worth his salt will tell you that the average novel is between 75K to 130k words long. Realistically, NaNoWriMo is a start to your first draft. NaNoWriMo sounds like a wonderful idea but…..


  1. Set up for failure. Sounds horrible, right? Why would I do that to myself? The reason I say this is if you take 50,000 words and divide that by 30, you end up with need to write 1667 words per day. Doesn’t sound so bad but think about your average word count per hour. Mine is about 400 -500 words. In order to reach the daily goal, I would need nearly four hours EVERY day! Who has that kind of time? Not me. My family would think I had ran off and left them if I disappeared for 125 hours in a month. Not to mention US Thanksgiving Holiday falls in the same month, thus putting a crinkle in the mix.
  2. Stress limits creativity. It does not matter where the stress comes from, it will cut into your creative juices. For many of us, our brains rebel against dictation. It will flat out fight us. The accountability piece of NaNoWriMo is beneficial overriding the brain’s revolt to write at all. But what do you write when the creative genius is blocked? Even Ernest Hemingway said he would walk away from writing with thoughts still flowing because he didn’t want them to dry up. I find that if I hit a roadblock, I walk away and the characters in my head have a chance to breathe and add more to their story. I cannot rush them.

 I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it. – Ernest Hemingway

  1. One focus. If you are currently working on a project or have a deadline in November. It goes without saying. Skip the contest and focus on the task at hand. I am currently finishing a manuscript and need to see it finished. If I were to attempt to write a 50,000 word piece in addition to finishing my novel that is beyond the 50,000 word mark, I would be FOCD. (Found on computer drooling).
  2. Writing Garbage/Editing Garbage. I believe I speak for most writers, when I say editing is the worst part of writing. So why would I torture myself in editing 150 pages of blah? While there may be gems started in NaNoWriMo, (8 bestsellers) they were not without revisions and additions. I don’t have the patience to edit and line by line edit words thrown at the screen. Most artists do not make art by tossing paint at a canvas and hoping for the best. It may make a good base but the artist is going to be using quite a bit of paint to clean it up. Same with writing at a rate that is not constructive. Wasted energy and time to fix the mess.

What is your option on NaNoWriMa? What are your reasons for joining in the crazy? Or why are you choosing sanity before Christmas?


4 thoughts on “Reasons NOT to join NaNoWriMo”

  1. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo for these exact reasons. I suppose it works for some people, but I think you need to find your own motivation to be a writer every day of the year (okay most days), not just a 30-day challenge once a year. And I sincerely hope that the people who do this don’t think they’ve written a novel…they’ve written a draft, one that will take months of editing to flesh out. Has anyone come up with the National Novel Rewriting and Editing Month (or Season) as a follow up?


    1. I have not seen an rewrite/editing month. That would be a great way to collaborate and find beta readers I would think. One editor mentioned dreading the garbage coming across their desks following NaNoWriMo, because there are some writers who do not understand what it takes to make a professional, edited draft. Back to the Editing Season you mentioned, I wonder if there would be others interested in a type of musical manuscripts, to exchange and edit for other writers. Great thought!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I never thought of the poor editors and publishers…no wonder so many of them close for submissions in December! 😂 Perhaps the NaNoWriMo people could, on 30 November, send out a huge list of books and websites that provide advice on how to edit and rewrite to everyone who took part…you know, “Hint hint!” I know it doesn’t have the same ring, but maybe changing the “Novel” to “Draft” would help too. NaDraWriMo, anyone?


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