Why I DON'T do NaNoWriMo

Today marks the start of NaNoWriMo, a full month wherein participants are challenged to write a draft of a novel.

I get the appeal of it, I do. You have goals and targets to light a fire under you, there's a whole community ready to cheer you on, there's awesome swag. It's all really, really cool. 


there are a few things about the whole idea of NaNoWriMo that don't sit right with me:


I find myself panicked and under tremendous pressure to produce, to keep those bars climbing a few thousand words E.V.E.R.Y. D.A.Y. 

... Guys, it's really hard to write a few thousand words E.V.E.R.Y. D.A.Y.

Like a lot of other writers, I have a full-time job. I teach English at a private college, and so I spend my days looking at essays, teaching, dealing with students, and planning lessons. The last thing I want to do when I get home is look at the computer screen for a few more hours. 

It won't happen. 

I know that.

But if I participate in NaNoWriMo, I feel like a failure for not hitting those targets (I also get a fair bit of FOMO seeing everyone else's word counts climb.) 

My writing happens on the weekend. It's my second job. I'm writing by 830 and I don't stop until 3 or 4. I can usually get in about 6k-10k words every weekend, which gives me a month total of anywhere between 24k - 30k. 

I'm cool with that. In fact, I think that's pretty damn productive.

2. I don't think the first draft of a novel can or should be written in a month.

It took me 7 months to write the first draft of my first novel, and this second novel looks set to take about the same amount of time. Time is not the enemy of writing, and I don't like the presumption inherent to NaNoWriMo that it is. 

Writing a novel takes time. It should take time. You need time to breathe, to read, to write, to edit, to take detours and find your way back. It's not something that ought to be rushed. 

3. Time, again. 

NaNoWriMo gives the impression that this month is dedicated to writing, when any writer knows that, for us, every month is NaNoWriMo. I don't see how a month assignation is helpful to those of us who live to write. 

4. Focus

Some writers say they use NaNoWriMo to kick out some fun little, nothing project that they don't really care about. A palate cleanser or something, I guess.

... I don't get that. My question is always, well, why don't you care about it? 

Don't get me wrong. I see the value in removing yourself from your WIP and getting out of a rut by working on some poetry or short stories or flash fiction or something, but I don't get the idea of spending A MONTH of writing time on something you don't ultimately care about. I don't get that. 

At the end of the day though, writing is an extremely personal activity, and you gotta do you, so if participating in NaNoWriMo helps, then more power to you.

I'll be NaNoWriYearing!