For those of you who have been wondering where the hell I’ve been over the past two weeks, you can read about the content detox I took recently as I took some time off for my brother’s wedding and to go to the beach with my family. I wrote about it on my personal blog.
In my blog, I talked about how I was putting too much pressure on myself recently. Given that, and given the fact that I spent about eight hours driving on day 1 of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been debating whether or not I was going to do it. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and the challenge is to write 50,000 words (a novel) in the month of November. I love NaNoWriMo and have done it several times. But even as I started my day writing 718 words, I’m still not sure I’m going to commit to doing the challenge.
So if you’re like me and you can’t make up your mind about whether or not to do NaNoWriMo–even on the second day of the month–here are three reasons to do it and three reasons not to.
Reasons to Do #NaNoWriMo
1. The community is the best
The best thing about NaNoWriMo is the sense of comradery that emerges between writers. We’re all in it together, and we all encourage each other. You can hop on Twitter, instagram, or YouTube at any point and find a ton of other writers by searching the hashtag #NaNoWriMo. They will do word sprints with you if you want to do that. They will talk to you if you need encouragement. They are seriously the best. If you search on Facebook or the NaNoWriMo website, you may even find a group near you that meets up at the local coffee shop to write. (I’ve been a member of the Kennesaw/Marietta group for at least three years, but I’ve never actually made it to a meetup. Maybe this year I will stop being a hermit.)
2. It gets you into a daily writing habit
Daily writing habits are great for the majority of writers. Keeping yourself engaged in your writing every day–even if it’s just for a small amount of time each day–can really help you to focus and get that book out there that you’ve been meaning to write for years. And you become so much better at writing the more you do it.
3. Tracking your words can make you write a lot more
There is something immensely satisfying about looking back over your words at the end of a writing session and discovering you just wrote 1784 words. And there’s something even more satisfying about the little graph on the NaNoWriMo website that goes up every time you do this. If you’ve never tracked your word count before, you may be surprised at how much just the act of tracking your words helps you to write more of them.
Alright, so NaNoWriMo is awesome, and everyone should do it. Or should they?
Reasons Not to Do #NaNoWriMo
1. The timing doesn’t work out
Let’s say you just finished a draft of a novel you’re working on, and you really want to revise your novel. Let’s say you’re called to write a play, a screenplay, or a collection of poems. Let’s say you’re in the middle of a novel you already started, and you don’t want to start another one. Many people do a “cheat” version. Technically, you’re supposed to start a new novel and finish it by the end of the month, but many people will write 50,000 words of two different things. Or perhaps their novel is actually 100,000 words. So they are only halfway done by the end of November. I have done this before (and if I do end up doing it this year, I’ll be doing it again) but sometimes the timing of what you’re working on just isn’t right. Don’t worry about it if that’s you. You can always do it next year.
2. You already have enough deadlines and pressure you put on yourself
I just had to take a break from all of the content I was producing because none of it was absolutely essential for my livelihood whereas my freelance writing was. The deadlines I have from various work projects and clients are deadlines I have to meet so if I put a bunch of arbitrary deadlines on myself, it can get crazy. Sometimes you have a lot going on at work, and you just don’t need to worry about it. Don’t stress.
3. You just don’t work that way
Some writers just can’t write 1600+ words a day, for whatever reason. Sometimes mental health issues or chronic pain issues may prevent someone from writing every day. Some people are not fast writers. Some people need to stick to 300 words a day or have marathon weekend writing sessions and not write during the week. Everyone has a different process. And it’s okay if writing 50,000 words in a month is just not doable for you.
The point is, there’s no right way for all writers to do something, which is good to keep in mind with any writing advice. So for those of you who are doing NaNoWriMo, good luck! I’ll be cheering you on all month! And for those of you who aren’t, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t worry. You’re still a writer.