Do I Need NaNoWriMo?

I just discovered that there is a June NaNoWriMo for those who wish to do it in a month other than November. For those unfamiliar with the concept, NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write a complete novel from start to finish. This challenge traditionally takes place in November, so I was surprised to find that the field had been opened to other months.

At first I thought, "Maybe I should be taking part". I unofficially took part last year and DID complete an entire manuscript. But did I gain anything from it? I enjoyed the process, but what did I learn?

  1. I don't write well when I have to write at the speed of light. My thoughts are a jumble and undecipherable.
  2. The editing phase was made much harder by the fact that I couldn't remember where I was heading with the scene. I could not make head nor tail of my sporadic writing.
  3. It physically hurts me (well, maybe not literally, but I'm a writer so I'm allowed to take creative license) to not be allowed to take a perfectionistic attitude toward my writing. It was tough being messy, and I didn't like it.

After much deliberation I have decided not to do NaNoWriMo again this year, although that may change come November. I just don't think it helped my writing. The manuscript I produced ended up lining my wastepaper bin because, try as I might, I couldn't do anything with it. I know there are people out there who find the NaNoWriMo process really useful and come out of it with amazing works of literature. Unfortunately for me this wasn't the case, and I felt it to be a hindrance rather a help. I'm not saying it is a bad idea, I'm just saying it didn't work for me.

What are your thoughts on NaNoWriMo? Do you spend the year counting down the days until you can write non stop? Or do you find it, as I did in hindsight, to throw a spanner in the works?


  1. I kind of like the idea of NaNoWriMo. It doesn't really lend itself to "good writing" as far as I'm concerned. I'm not actually convinced that's the point of it anyway. I think it's really just in place to blitz a manuscript just to finish the idea. Then it's edit time. (Heh, and re-write.)

    I've never taken part. I've thought about it a lot and I've TRIED once. (I tried when I shouldn't have. I tried to kick-start back into writing - for me, that was a bad idea. Not good for the ol' self-confidence.") So...I think it's a good theory to speed-write your way into a finished product, but (very like 3-Day Novel Contest) I don't think it's for me. (It makes me a little sad - there's a bit of community I feel I'm missing out on when people post word counts on Twitter. It's a be ridiculous, but I always want to be one of them.)

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Vyxen. There was definitely a great sense of community with the NaNoWriMo. I received so much encouragement, and I truly believe that I only completed a full manuscript because of the encouragement I received along the way by so many amazing writers.

    The problem with the manuscript was that it was unusable. I honestly can't remember where I was heading with certain scenes because I wrote in such haste (I also realized that the plot line was booooring). In saying that, something really great did come out of it - I took the plunge into becoming a full time writer. Completing NaNoWriMo whilst working 6 day weeks made me realize that I CAN write, and I can achieve anything when I set my mind to it. It gave me the confidence I needed to take that gigantic leap that has transformed my life.

    That's why I won't be doing the comp this year. I don't need to prove anything to myself at the moment, and I also have the time I need to write a carefully planned novel. I am one of the lucky ones :) NaNoWriMo was useful at the time but, like you, it wouldn't be useful for the place that I currently stand in my life at the moment.

    I wish you all the best with your writing! I enjoyed scrolling through your blog.

  3. I originally like the concept of NaNoWriMo and I think if you need an external deadline to help you then it's still a great thing. Nothing I've ever written for NaNoWriMo has been usable, either because (like you) I couldn't work out where I was meant to be going with it, or because I got fed up and ditched it after the 50k unfinished.

    NaNoWriMo is probably great for a lot of people, it just isn't really my way of writing. Sometimes I write fast, other times I write slowly. It's also a pain timing things so you're ready to start something new in a specific month.


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