Is NaNoWriMo Right For Me?

There will come a time for all of us when things just aren’t right for us. For those of you that don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month,or NaNoWriMo (although how can you NOT know if you’ve been following this blog??). I am a huge fan of NaNoWriMo, don’t get me wrong. But there’s been a question, a niggling doubt just sitting in the back of my head. It’s been haunting me for weeks, winding itself through my brain like a parasite:

Is NaNoWriMo right for me?

My first response, as it has been for the past three years, is of course it is! For the first time in nearly three years, I have the chance to work on a completely new project than the one I had before. For the first time in three years, I’m not bound by a duty to finishing my current novel. This November can be a period of exploration for me: a trial run. Can I write this novel? Is this novel right for me? Do I enjoy the characters?

But as each year of school progresses, it becomes gradually harder to write the demanding 2,000 words a day. Last year, I went writing-crazy the week of Thanksgiving break, pushing myself harder than ever before to get 5,000 words a day on the page. But I can’t afford to do that this year.

At the end of summer back in August, I told myself what those three days of wondrous Thanksgiving Break are for: they are for revising my novel. I love the world of The CyberWorld. It won’t be a New York Times Bestseller. Not everyone will like Breeze. She’s a hard girl to like. If you met her in real life, you’d probably want to avoid her. But I wrote that novel for myself. I poured my heart and my soul and worked my fingers off and gave myself carpel tunnel for three years over that novel. And that, to me, is very important. So if it means that NaNoWriMo has to go in order for me to edit my beloved novel, NaNoWriMo will go.

Which brings me to a crossroads. I have never skipped NaNoWriMo, not one year, not one Camp session, since I joined the YWP Program for the first time back in 2011. I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to spare the extra hour or two at night to write 2,000 words each day. I’d sleep at midnight on good days and three AM on not-so-good-days.

Maybe NaNoWriMo is no longer right for me.

I love writing. I really do. But during NaNoWriMo each year, it becomes a slog. Halfway through the month, usually around week two, I find myself lagging. Dragging myself through that novel that I have to get done. All that I really want, at that halfway mark, and sometimes for the rest of the month, is the shiny winner’s web badge that I can get if I write 50,000 words. Sometimes, NaNoWriMo has made me not want to write at all. Sometimes, when I get to that halfway mark, that halfway point, I’m not writing for myself any more. I’m writing for my reputation: “The teenage girl who wrote 50,000 words in a month. Not once. Not twice. But four times!”

And writing shouldn’t be for that. Sure, if I hadn’t written for my reputation, I wouldn’t have my completed, yet-to-be-fully-edited novel with me right here, right now. But in a world that’s full of misery and homework and endless testing and examinations, writing and reading are some of the only things I do in my free time, for myself.

Do I want to write for my reputation, and finish a novel? Or do I want to write for myself, and maybe put that novel off for another year, maybe two?

It’s a tough decision to make.

So, my fine, lovely fellow (or maybe no-longer-fellow) WriMos, I give you my verdict: I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year.

“What?” you say. “But you just told us you wouldn’t be able to write… you said you wanted to write for yourself, not for your reputation. So… why exactly do you want to do NaNoWriMo??”

No, I probably will not be able to write the whole, 50,000-word spiel. I will probably clock in at 11:59 PM on November 30th with around 20,000 words. If I’m lucky. But I can’t imagine not doing NaNoWriMo. That sense of community, the wonderful people I get to interact with every day of November, wouldn’t exist without NaNoWriMo. I think, more than anything, that has kept me going. Because, you know, I did end up finishing The CyberWorld after all. And I don’t hate it. I’m not repulsed completely by it. In fact, I love it. I love what I was able to do, what I learned that I, a teenage girl, can achieve. (Plus, I need some motivation to edit my entire, 150-page manuscript by the end of November. 😛 )

Maybe, just maybe, I can make NaNoWriMo right for me again.


The title of this post was originally “Is NaNoWriMo Right For You?” But then, just before I hit the “publish” button, I realized: I can’t tell you if NaNoWriMo is right for you. You can’t tell me if NaNoWriMo is right for me. Sure, you can suggest things to me, you can offer me tips and advice as a fellow WriMo. But you can’t do the deciding for me. Only can.

So, what do you say? Have you wondered about asking yourself, “Is NaNoWriMo right for ME?”

6 responses to “Is NaNoWriMo Right For Me?

  1. I did not tear up at this for some amazingly weird reason that I don’t understand. Nope, that definitely did not happen… OH LOOK, A SQUIRREL!!! *distracts you so I can go weep in peace*

  2. If it’s the sense of purpose and community that you find beneficial, then you’re making the right decision. You don’t have to do the whole 50k words. If NaNoWriMo keeps you writing, then it’s a good thing.

    I can say honestly that NaNo is not right for me. I need space and time to think between every chapter of a first draft. That’s just my style. I’m sure I could REVISE a 50k novel in 30 days, but I cannot write the first draft of one.

    • Exactly my thoughts! Thanks for the support! 🙂

      NaNoWriMo is sometimes good for me, because I have the busy life of a student, and I don’t always push myself hard enough to write. And especially with everything else crowding in the way, I think it’s important for me to write as much as I can when I can. After sleeping on it (note this post was written and published at 1:00 AM), I’m actually thinking of revising The CyberWorld during November’s NaNo this year. It wouldn’t be too hard, considering the novel is around 60,000 words already, and I’d just be rewriting some of it and fixing a lot of sentence structure for a small portion, too. 😀

      Thanks for the support, Diane! 🙂

  3. I’m doing NaNo this year… but writing probably only 5K. xD I just don’t have the time or motivation to do anything more. I mean, it’s a fun event and I love participating, but it’s always suuuuuch a slog.

    …also, Doctor Who! The final episode, “Death in Heaven,” has been confirmed to air on Nov. 8… like I thought. So reviewing it shouldn’t get in the way of your finals, right? 🙂

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