Why I say ‘no’ to Nanowrimo

This month, you may see Nanowrimo pop up, particularly on social media platforms.

What does it mean?  Nanowrimo is an organisation that encourages people to be creative. The idea is that you attempt to write a 50,000-word novel between November 1 and November 30th.

Ideally the spirit of the event is one of friendship, mutual support and enthusiasm about writing a novel. However, writing takes up a lot of time and to fit this amount of writing, with such a high word count into a very short deadline is a very tall order.

6 Reasons why I don’t think Nanowrimo is a good idea

  1. You have to live your life.  Writing 50,000 words in 30 days means writing 1,667 words each day.  It seems that Hemmingway wrote between 500 and 1,000 words a day, although Stephen King says he has written 2,000 words a day, but not necessarily every day. Basically, the average for writers seems to be 1,000. How realistic is 1,667 a day, when you probably have to consider other people in your life, and other commitments? Even living alone, writing that many words every single day would leave you with very little time for anything else.
  2. During these weird times we are living in, where we are in lockdown, many people have felt less motivated.  For many their mental health has already suffered and to spend time completely alone, writing and not having time to converse with anyone else would also not be good for your mental health.  
  3. You may not feel 100% every single day. How would you then feel about sitting at your computer or laptop for most of the day? It isn’t physically good for your body to sit at a computer screen 24/7.
  4. Planning your novel takes time and just to leap straight into it without any thought to characters or plot means that you will start writing, but probably not have the information or ideas to finish.
  5. Aiming for a word count alone can be a false sense of security.  The temptation being, you have reached your goal at 50,000 words and ‘hey presto’ you have a novel.  However, is your work actually finished? Does it make sense, or have you made it finish at that word count?  Should it have finished several thousand earlier, or in fact, does it need far more to finish the story successfully?
  6. My main concern with this is, are you setting yourself up for failure?  Everyone writes at different speeds, and everyone’s way of working is individual. What works for Stephen King, wouldn’t necessarily work for J K Rowling, or for you. Work when you are feeling passionate about writing, at the time of day that works for you, and when you can best focus.

Writing my novel

I have been working on my first novel since April 2019, and I’m not embarrassed to say it’s been that long. I started out with the idea churning around in my head for some time.  Then, I started to gather ideas about my characters. Got to know who they are, and their backgrounds. I planned out a loose timeline and plot, some of which has altered as I’ve gone along.

I actually a started work writing the story in June 2019, but I have a day job and a husband too, and they  come first.

I am counting words as I go, because I find it encourages me moving forward. As an aside, I have 50,000 plus, with still more to go. However, I know that the story will end when it is ready and even then, the word count will alter drastically once it has had its first serious edit. I have been doing some editing as I go, but know there will be far more required.

I’m inconsistent in how much I write each day, but I am not inconsistent in my desire to finish my writing, which I will.

If you feel you want to have a go at writing a novel in a month, then don’t let anyone stop you, but be aware of the pressures and be realistic about the quality of the outcome.

“Borges said there are only four stories to tell: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power and the voyage. All of us writers rewrite these same stories ad infinitum”.

Paulo Coelho