5 Signs NaNoWriMo Might Not Be For You

NaNoWriMo – or National Novel Writing Month – is a writing marathon that takes place in November, as well as a ‘lighter’ version in the months of April and July. The end goal is to write 50,000 words by the end of 30 days. I’ve done NaNoWriMo a couple of times now and it has it’s pros and cons. It’s certainly not for everyone. Here’s some signs it might not be for you.

1. You’re an ‘Edit-As-You-Go’ Writer

There’s this narrative (ha, get it?) that trying to edit your novel before it’s finished is a no-good-very-bad-idea. I’ve heard from a lot of writers and authors that I should finish my manuscripts before I even think about doing any editing or re-working and… I have to disagree.

If I’ve noticed a problem with my story or I don’t like the direction it’s going, why should I wait until the end of 80, 000 words to do something about that. I don’t see how leaving the bulk of the work until the very end makes me a better writer or my story any stronger. More importantly, if I can create a smooth a manuscript as possible, it’s going to make the revision time easier and, dare I say, fun because I get to re-read a story that I love that isn’t also an eyesore.

2. The Thought Of Editing Anything Over 10k Makes You Ill

One reason I like editing as I go is that I only need to make minor changes when I reach the end of my writing project.

Trying to edit huge documents is very off-putting. Though I’ve written stories over 100k, the idea of sitting down at the end of that and trying to go through the whole thing without any prior editing or proof-reading sounds like a slog.

I just don’t have the willpower to clean up 50k of word-vomit.

3. You Honestly Don’t Have Time/Don’t Want To Write Everyday

In my article How To Finish NaNo With Time To Spare, I mentioned that everyone can carve out at least an hour or twenty minutes of time in their day. I still think that’s true. Mostly.

It takes a sarcrifice to make that extra hour a day if you don’t have an abundance of free time. Many professional writers will say sacrifice for your writing, but sometimes that’s time you can’t sacrifice. You’ve worked to the bone at your day job, picked up your kids from school, cooked, cleaned, put the kids to bed, finished off that work for that online course you’re doing, and you’re in chronic pain because of a disability, but maybe you can squeeze an hour of writing before bedtime and some days you will and you can, and some day you can’t and that’s perfectly alright.

Or you just don’t want to write everyday. The process is more fun when you take a step back for a short while. You might get your best writing done when you’re not writing. That’s perfectly alright too!

4. You Think You’ll Get A Novel At The End (You Won’t)

I mentioned this towards the end of my NaNo Pros and Cons list, but it’s worth repeating. Blame it on the name, the banners, the celebrations, or the certificate at the end, but there’s an idea that the end result of NaNoWriMo is a novel.

That’s not the case. In general, novels are longer than 50k. They fall between 50,000 and 90,000 so while a 50k novel isn’t unheard of, it does lean a little on the shorter side. You might have to bulk it up.

That, plus all that revision time, means that the work doesn’t stop at the end of November. Going in with the expectation that you’ll be a publishing your work come December is going will only result in heartbreak.

5. You Don’t Enjoy Writing Sprints

A writing sprint is a timed session of focused writing. Essentially, it’s sitting your butt down, timing yourself for 5, 10, 15 minutes and pumping as many words as you can. These sprints can be done solo or in a group.

NaNoWriMo is one giant writing sprint. Or, more accurately, it’s multiple writing sprints a day for thirty days. If that doesn’t work for you, it might not be the best idea to take part.

I believe that NaNoWriMo is designed for a specific kind of writer. All writers are different. We all have our own goals, and cramming those into 30 days won’t work for all of us.

And that’s okay.


Read all my NaNoWriMo posts here.

You read to the end! I tip my hat to you.

If you liked this, let me know 🙂

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