National Novel Writing Month is November. It’s when lots of authors set out to write a whole novel, or at least 50,000 words of one, in a single month. Some writers can do so. Some cannot or chose not to. Many fine writers ignore the whole thing. That said, NaNoWriMo can be useful for newish writers in several ways:
- It gets them in the habit of writing.
- It gets their families, friends and those in their household in the habit of expecting them to be absorbed in writing.
- Lots of words, or at least a goodly number, end up on the page, words that can later be supplemented and improved later.
- It provides camaraderie with other NaNoWriMo writers. Thus, it can counteract the lonely aspects of this solitary endeavor.
Nonetheless, NaNoWriMO doesn’t work for everyone year after year. Here’s why:
- It causes some of us writers to compare our output to that of others. Now there’s a surefire way to sap the joy out of writing. Plus, it increases the pressure to crank out the words.
- It leaves those working on short stories, essays, poetry, and creative nonfiction feeling like afterthoughts.
- New writers who don’t end up with 50,000 words can feel like they’ve failed. Never mind that life events, holidays, academia, and work schedules are not conducive to a month of intensive writing.
- It takes some doing to adapt NaNoWriMo’s word count to the process of revising a work in process.
Final thoughts: if you are a writer and NaNoWritMo works for you, that’s great! If it doesn’t, for whatever reason you can identify and even if you don’t know why, please don’t think of it as a failure or yourself as a failure. Creative writing is not a win/lose competition.