Thoughts About NaNoWriMo

As you can see, it’s the beginning of another month; the beginning of November.  Halloween costumes have been retired and candy has been collected, and the streets of San Francisco are being cleaned up following yesterday afternoon’s World Series Championship celebrations (go Giants!).  While us Americans have another holiday to look forward to this month- Thanksgiving- for writers all over the world, this month is graced with another name, in regards to a project that begins today and goes through to the end of the month.  I’m talking about NaNoWriMo.

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month.  It’s a project where writers are encouraged to work towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel over the course of the next 30 days.  It’s all about emphasizing on hard work, determination, inspiration, and creativity.  NaNoWriMo originally started in July 1999 here in the Bay Area, with a total of about 21 participants.  However, since then, the project has exceeded to where even people outside the United States partake in it too.  Last year’s NaNoWriMo drew a number of approximately 400,000 participants (I’m including the young writer participants in my rough estimate).

In case you haven’t figured out by now, NaNoWriMo has gotten to be HUGE over the course of the past 15 years; so much as to where online communities of writers are formed and there’s always that one article circulating on the Internet that lists public venues writers can go to work on their novels when they don’t want to be at home.

I feel that when you’re a writer or at least aspiring to write, it’s hard not to be aware of NaNoWriMo.  It seems that if you tell another writer that you’re interested in pursuing the endeavor of writing a book that you automatically should be considered for being a participant in this month long project.  However, in my point of view, NaNoWriMo is not for all writers- I being one of them.

I don’t undermine the benefits one gains from the experience; that you can get communal support, that you’d be pursuing your craft, and that if you stick with it, you’ll have a fully written novel 25 days before Christmas.  I can see it as especially beneficiary for writers who come up with multiple excuse for why they shouldn’t write a novel.  The project helps with formulating a time line and giving them a reason to just do it.

But for some writers, being under that kind of pressure is too much, and that they feel they can’t do the best job they possibly can.  There is advice that goes around that you don’t have to have a story in mind when going into writing it, but really I just find that to be really dumb.  To me, that’s equivalent to wandering around a foreign country you’ve never been to in your life; you should always know where you’re going in my opinion.

As far as being time conscientious to the max, a fellow writer of mine, EJ Koh, can attest to that when she wrote her debut novel, Red, within a six-month time span.  She got work done at an alarming rate, but her decline in health was a result of her sacrifice; so much as to where she had to be taken to the hospital at one point.  On top of that, she was also working on her Master’s degree at Columbia.  I can understand where she was coming from on this, but there’s a limit to that sort of thing where surpassing it is obviously consequential.

I honestly didn’t really do myself any favors either when writing A Moment’s Worth.  I wrote a majority of it throughout 2013.  During those 12 months, I was enrolled in college full time, I did a summer internship, and I was involved in putting together a show with the San Francisco chapter of Kollaboratin.  But the only difference was that I didn’t rush myself.  I gave myself a year to complete the book, and I met my deadline.

Before I’m completely outcasted by the society of writers for bashing on NaNoWriMo, that’s not to say that I hadn’t thought about participating in it before.  I actually did think about writing something for it this year, which involved expanding on one of the story arches from A Moment’s Worth.  However, seeing that I’m satisfied with how the book is, I didn’t find it necessary to add onto it.  Also, with the fact that I’m busy finishing up school at the moment, I’ve hardly have had time lately to even work on planning my second novel.

I’m pretty sure there will come the year where I will put myself through the stress of writing a novel within a 30-day time span; just for the sake of experimenting how much I can write within that time line and pressure.  If not for myself, then for curiosity’s sake.  However, for now though, I’m just not quite ready yet.

So to those participating in NaNoWriMo, I wish you nothing but luck on your endeavors.  If writing is your calling and if you feel this project will help get it going, then by all means, go for it.

A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunesPlease leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 5 reviews so I’m already a quarter of a way to my goal).

Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.


4 Replies to “Thoughts About NaNoWriMo”

  1. Yeah, I wouldn’t do NaNo without a story in mind, which is why I almost didn’t do it this year. But in late September, I settled on a project and started jotting notes. Honestly though, even with an outline, it’s hard. I just stared at page one for awhile before I pounded it out, because the dust hasn’t settled in my mind yet. I’m still caught up in the “possibility” stage, so laying down concrete now feels….unnatural.

    I’m not sure if I’ll get to a finished book this year. I’m participating, I’m trying, but I have the eerie sense that I’ve started this novel too soon. And I’m not going to force it, you know?

    1. I get what you mean by that. If you feel that your book is not quite ready to leap into writing it just yet, then I would advise you take your time. Good luck with your book!

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