My Urge to Write (and why I don’t get involved in NaNoWriMo)

This isn’t a one-sided rant, oh no. Far from it. But it is an observation of the group dynamics of Nanowrimo (Nano for short).

Over the last few years those who do participate in Nano implore me to join it, saying it’s the best, "you just HAVE to do it!", "it’s good for you!", etc. I have to say, I had a little bit of a distorted view of it at the beginning, thinking what a waste of time it was to just spit out garbage, when as a writer, wouldn’t one be spending the days and nights of November actually writing? I got in a few heated arguments about it too, and regret it.  Since then I am aware that there are positive features of this phenomenon, including the charity elements, the way it can help those with motivational issues or even the dreaded Writer’s Block. But I still wont join in. No, sir.

My reasons are different now, and purely pragmatic, although with a taste of just allowing for me – the way I do things. I completed a 200k novel not too long ago and I’m trying to flog it off. I have written two-thirds of the second book in the series and put it on hold in order to write a YA novel that is now half written, and I aim to get a good version of it completed by end December. I write lots of short stories. I just started an international Publishing company with three partners and I am the Chief Editor – and I need to help drum up business. Then I have an arduous day job, a wife and four year old daughter that I love, and a need for at least some sleep. There, the pragmatic element is over and done with.

There are other reasons why I don’t want to do Nano. Perhaps selfish. I love my writing and I can’t bear removing myself from my projects to start another for a purpose that isn’t really suited to my needs. I don’t get WB and I don’t lose motivation – or if I do, at worst it lasts a few days. I can’t bear tearing myself away from them. Nano would do that to me.

To a lesser extent I also wonder if it is altogether healthy to have such enthusiasm generated by hundreds of thousands of participants. I will be the first to stand up and say it has a whole lot of positives associated with it, but there’s the down side as well. Only on Twitter and FB over the last few days, there are postings and blogs popping up with authors agonizing over their difficulty to keep up with their targets, and wondering if they should opt out or not. It seems like Nano definitely has a dark side to it, but it is caused by the group dynamics of this most popular event. A form of peer pressure.

Again, I emphasize that this is just an overall assessment and not a Nano-bashing exercise. I am just trying to be an observer.

I hope those of you who are enjoying it continue to get something worthwhile out of Nanowrimo. Those of you who are suffering a little – there is no penalty for dropping out and there should be no guilt from something that was generated by something as intangible as group dynamics. And there is certainly nothing wrong at all in not wanting to participate – I salute you for existing outside of those dynamics. 

Well, now that the soapbox is over, I might write my targeted 3000 words today in my YA Novel….

5 thoughts on “My Urge to Write (and why I don’t get involved in NaNoWriMo)

  1. Funnily enough, I was about to write about the very same topic on my blog. Like you, I’m not participating in NaNo either – though I do feel slightly left out! Decided my own WIP was far more important at this stage. Maybe next year.


  2. As they say, to each his own. I commend you for sticking to your guns, and finding the balance in your life to finish the projects you have started with that of family.


  3. Hi Gerry, Nice to connect! I’m also not doing nano. My main reason is because I couldn’t. I don’t write like that. I write very slowly and carefully. If I average 250 words a day on all my projects, I’d be amazed. On a good day, I might *cut* a thousand words. Good luck with the 200-Kiloword novel. That must be a really hard sell. I’ve seen agents and publishers say that 120k-130K was about the limit even for a fantasy or SF saga. (I speak as someone sitting on two 150KW parts of a 3-parter. One day, I’ll get around to hacking those extra 20K words out of them!)


    1. Hi Gary We all have our own pace – and just measuring speed doesn’t factor in quality – your point is another reason not to do it. Yeah, I definitely know about the first-timer limit – since I have started my own publishing company with 3 others I have deep dived motivations in the industry. It really is simple economics – they want to spend as little as possible with “high risk”, and printing beyond the 120k limit does have production overhead. My first novel was a 200k because it HAD to be, so I am living with it. Now that I have my own company, and we transition to trad publishing (as opposed to hybrid POD, as we are now), I will publish it myself. I am writing a YA novel that will probably end up 70k – apart from thinking this one will be popular, I certainly don’t have the word limit issue! Don’t hack the words out unless it is warranted! Just hang on, and wait until you have enough cred to have the publisher happy to publish for you! Or alternatively, visit our site! (not a marketing statement, mind you). cheers and glad to connect. Hope to have other good conversations with you. Gerry


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s