Why I don’t do NaNoWriMo (and why I’m glad it exists)

Working on my novelYour Twitter and Facebook feeds are likely full of people posting their word counts for NaNoWriMo, that yearly 50,000 word scramble of the indie writer world.

I’m not participating.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I’ve been tempted. Briefly. After all, the concept makes some sense. By the end of a one month period, you’ll have 50,000 more words than you did when you started. Even if you fall short, that’s still a lot of progress.

Here’s why I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo. As a writer, I’ve spent a lot of time finding out what kind of schedule, output, and situations work for me. It’s something all writers do. Each writer has to decide for herself how writing fiction fits into their lifestyle.

For me, I write two to three times per week, typically. I write probably 800 to 1,500 words at a time. When I choose to write is determined by a few things. A major factor is work. As a journalist I write nearly every day anyway, regardless of whether I’m writing fiction, and I also work ridiculous hours sometimes. After a 10-12 hour day with heavy breaking news, I’m often too worn out to write.

Yes, that schedule means I don’t finish work quickly. And I’m OK with that. The pace I write at makes it enjoyable for me.

I once read some writing advice that said a writer should determine whether they are writing for marketability or writing for love. My immediate question was why in the fuck would you ever write for anything other than the love of what you’re doing? The thought of writing fiction for marketability makes me sick. I just can’t believe anyone could write a good book or short story that they were writing simply because they thought it would sell.

But anyway, that’s the point. To write what at least I think is good fiction, I have to love what I’m doing. And that means writing at a pace at which I continue to love writing fiction.

So no NaNoWriMo for me.

That being said, I’m glad it exists. I’m happy that there’s a time period in which a whole lot of people are enthusiastic about writing. And I think the enthusiasm has rubbed off. I seem to be writing more often this month, I think because of that NaNoWriMo energy.

So bless you, NaNoWriMo. Just don’t expect me to log any of my words.


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