Winning Camp NaNoWriMo… FOR THE TENTH TIME


If I’m not very much mistaken, this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo marks my tenth “win” in the NaNoWriMo program. Yet… in my entire three years with the program, I have only produced one novel and one novella (the latter of which will never see the light of day in its current state).

So what’s the point of doing NaNoWriMo?

I mean, I love writing, don’t get me wrong. And I’ve had so many great unfinished story ideas while I’ve been with the program. But I don’t think I was built to write on a timeline. The moment you put me on one, boom, inspiration gone (or at least very, very hard to find). Which is why for the past couple rounds of Camp, I’ve been setting my word-count goal as low as 10,000 words… resulting in many, many “wins.” I understand that once I’m a published author (notice I say once and not if… it will happen someday), I’ll most definitely be on a deadline and will have to write under a lot of duress. But that’s not my situation, so right now, I’m going to take my time.

At first, I continued to do Camp well past my NaNoWriMo-ing prime because, well, FRIENDS! I wanted to find a group of writers I could swap ideas with, go to for writing prompts, and stay up with for late-night word sprints. And I found those people. Kate, Athena, and Selene are possibly the best cabin mates and writerly friends I’ve ever had. We stay in touch through Twitter and so on even when we’re NOT NaNoWriMo-ing. So I really don’t know why I still do NaNo.

Maybe it’s getting that badge on my profile, and stacking up the wins? Maybe it’s just because I enjoy saying, “I’m doing NaNoWriMo!” even though I’m not even writing a full story? I don’t know. And I’m starting to question myself about that.

I’ve won Camp July 2015, and yet I still have not formulated anything of importance to a story. I haven’t written anything down, save 10,552 words, but that’s not a lot. And, since I dove into writing this post without a goal in mind, I think that maybe what I’m thinking now is

Doing NaNoWriMo, for me, is pointless. And it stopped having a point a long time ago.

I can honestly say I have no idea why I still do it. Yes, I like the forum and the style of the Camp Message Board. Yes, I love my Cabin Mates to infinity and beyond. But I no longer like seeing the Stats push me forward or entering a title or a genre or a summary or an excerpt or a blurb sentence or a cover or maybe anything else.

Sometimes stories have to stay in your brain for a while and stew before you can share them with anyone else. I understand that a big part of the whole NaNoWriMo mantra is if you have others to urge you on, you might actually finish your novel, but when you just don’t feel like sharing and don’t feel like you need urging… what’s the point?

I want my novel to come out when it comes out, not on Camp NaNoWriMo’s timeline.

I’m not one of those speed-writers who can finish a novel in fifteen days, or even thirty. I’m a normal human being and I write best on my own time. Sometimes I’m a pantser. Sometimes I’m a planner. Sometimes it takes me three years and sometimes it takes me six months to get a novel going. I’m not part of a formula, I’ve learned. And maybe the fact that NaNoWriMo makes me feel so much like one is why it has stopped appealing to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the community. I like the writing buddies I’ve made. I love the two novel(la)s that I’ve produced (okay, well, I like the IDEAS of them… the actual content may have to wait a while before I can set eyes on it). But I think that the time has come to face the fact that NaNoWriMo isn’t right for me anymore. And however much I love writing, NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be a part of that process if I don’t want it to be.

Maybe one day I’ll write a novel in thirty days. Maybe one day I’ll write a novel in fifteen. For all the cheese that’s holy, I might write one in seven. But that’s not today. And it’s most likely not going to be the literal tomorrow.

So will I be participating in NaNoWriMo this November? We’ll see. I’m tempted to say no, but then again, I’m very good at backing out of things and saying yes once November 1st rolls around. The point is, I just won NaNoWriMo. For the tenth time. And that makes me think that NaNo may no longer be right for me, because I haven’t produced a single novel since Camp April 2014. So right now, NaNo’s out. Maybe it won’t be in three months. Who knows?

Are you going to be doing NaNoWriMo this upcoming November? If so, why? What does NaNoWriMo add to YOUR writing process?

8 responses to “Winning Camp NaNoWriMo… FOR THE TENTH TIME

  1. NaNoWriMo in any form is not for me. It doesn’t match my process, and, like you, I find it hampers creativity … which is often the result of reflection over time and turning my attention to something else. Plot problems most usually get solved when I’m thinking about something else.

    However, there is no shame in producing unfinished pieces of writing, either. It’s all part of the process of becoming a novelist. Wait. Strike the word becoming and change it to being. I still have plenty of unfinished projects …

    • Yes, this whole admitting that NaNoWriMo is probably not working for me anymore is kind of a new process; I used to be a HUGE proponent of NaNoWriMo, and I’d encourage you to try it even if it didn’t mesh with your writing style, because why not try it? But I do think that getting a cleaner first draft is important, and really thinking about what you’re writing, and that’s now my priority. I’m not a good editor if the underlying story isn’t easily made visible, but I work much better in an environment I’m allowed to think and be inspired in. And it’s definitely okay to have unfinished projects! But I just think to properly write a novel, you have to dedicate yourself to writing, well, that novel. Before I really couldn’t do that well, but now I can, and I don’t need NaNoWriMo watching over me anymore.

  2. Congratulations yet again! you seem really motivated to be winning this year after year. I hope you continue to stay self motivated.. look forward to reading your novel someday 🙂

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