No to NaNoWriMo but Yes to Writing More

As you know, this is National Novel Writing Month fondly called NaNoWriMo, and many people have begun the journey to writing a 50,000 world novel in a month.

Kudos to them!

As the beginning of November approached, I had a debate with myself about joining. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Should I? Shouldn’t I?

I recognize the advantages of joining NaNoWriMo: the community, the inspiration, the support group, etc. But, when I really thought about it, I felt an overwhelming sense of pressure at the thought of joining. Why? Here are some of my thoughts:

  • I know I can write a novel. I’ve done it. Just because that novel has yet to be published doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
  • I know I have other books inside me, but trying to force them out has made me depressed and frustrated. I can’t force myself to create, I create when I have something to say.
  • When I find a story, I write quickly. Thousands of words pour out of me in a short time period, so the time limit of a month has little meaning anyway. If I have a story to tell, I will tell it.
  • Writing quickly does not necessarily mean writing well. I know, the concept behind this is to just get a draft done, and then you can enter the editing process, but every writer has  a different process so I’m not sure that would completely work for me. (I often alternate between writing and editing, reviewing past work before I continue forward).
  • I am already putting too much pressure on myself to accomplish, and I’m struggling a lot with my own pressure. NaNoWriMo seems like it will just add to the mix.

For those of you who have joined this challenge, I think it is wonderful. I look forward to reading your stories and learning about your adventures throughout the month.

I just needed to make a different choice. For a while I thought perhaps I was just making another excuse, another reason to say “I want to be a writer,” rather than “I am a writer.”

Then I looked at what I have written since Nov 1 (even with a power outage and other issues)  and I realized, I am writing. I wrote:

I have written hundreds, if not thousands of words a day. So, while I may not (or maybe I will) have a novel to show for it at the end of November, I will still be able to say “I am a writer.”

That has to be enough.

Good luck to all you NaNoWriMo writers! And good luck to the rest of us as well.

24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. k8edid
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:05:47

    I like the way you think (and write). I blogged yesterday how NaNoWriMo is kicking my butt (and it is). I cannot seem to turn off the editor in me that wants to “fix” every sentence, re-align every thought. Depression and frustration are perfect descriptions of what I feel as I push onward.


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:34:53

      k8edid, I’m sorry I missed your post yesterday, but I just went and commented. Do not let depression and frustration stop you. I think what frustrates me most about the NaNoWriMo challenge is the idea that everyone can write the same way. I do believe in shitty first drafts, but for me the shittiness only lasts while I pour words onto the page in my initial writing frenzy. I almost immediately go back and fix the mess, editing and perfecting. The next day, or the next time I approach the project, I re-read what I’ve done before. Fix it some more, and then move on. Is that the best approach? Who knows, but its the way I work. Find your own rhythm and focus on the story, not on the number of words and the approach.


  2. Piglet in Portugal
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:10:32

    NaNoWriMo is amazing, but it was also not for me. While I enjoy telling stories it takes me ages to write them down. I was tempted in one respect however, I want to improve the quality and style of my writing not the speed! You are spot on 🙂 I do support my blogging buddy Dave Farmer who has joined! He’s so excited about it I am swept away by his sheer enthusiam!

    Anyway, I loved your book review on “Mailed” I know what you mean about initially feeling intimitated about commenting on her blog. When I read writers blogs I somehow feel insignificant in the presence of “proper” writers. I suppose at the moment I am a social blogger who writes shorts stories and articles for enjoyment.

    I was encouraged by one of my blogging buddies to join an online
    writing group so I plucked up courage to apply. It was an “expats writing circle” so I thought great! I sent an email, as instructed, to introduce myself and have heard nothing!. Not an acknowledgement of my application. Nothing! Zilch. OK, I am an insignificant pleb and not worthy! LOL 😉

    Keep writing and I will buy your next novel!



    • Lisa Wields Words
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:30:57

      PiP, I am so sorry that you haven’t heard back from that writing group. Their loss. I think that writing groups are a challenge, because you really need to be on the same page in terms of expectations and goals. Of course, this is coming from someone who desperately wants a writing group but is to shy/chicken/strange to go out there and find or create one.

      You are not a pleb. Face it, you’ve had more success with your blog than many of the “professional” writers out there. What is professional anyway? I guess it means you’ve been paid, but to me a professional practices whatever their profession on a regular basis. I am a professional theater director, even if I mostly work with students. I am a writer because I write.

      You keep writing, and I’ll keep reading.



  3. sportsjim81
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:18:19

    That’s a lot of writing in just a few days! I agree with you about almost all of your points. As someone who wants to start a novel but has never gone down that path before, I don’t want to feel rushed or pressured into completing something I am not going to be happy with. I’ll take my time, create my outline, characters, plots lines, etc., and then I’ll get to writing. Good luck indeed to all those participating though!


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:27:44

      Just make sure you don’t work so slowly that you never get anything done. 😉 Honestly, the book I wrote was through an on-line course I was taking, so I technically had deadlines and an instructor to report to. That helped, except that it was really easy to delay the deadlines. I found that, when I felt like writing, I could whip through that section quickly. When I didn’t, nothing was going to make words come out. I would say that, if I added all the writing time together, I actually did write the book in less than a month. It just had interruptions in between.


  4. Tori Nelson
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:47:39

    I’m on the same page about NaNoWriMo. I feel like I write less and of a poorer quality when I’m just trying to get words onto the page. I guess that would be the equivalent of singing in the shower but choking on stage in front of a crowd. I like to write in my own time, sometimes lots, sometimes nothing. I don’t think I deal well with guidelines!


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:53:17

      That’s part of what makes you a great writer Tori! I love that about you. I miss you when you don’t write, but I understand at the same time.


  5. thelifeofjamie
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 11:05:52

    I joined this last year and did not once write a single word. Too much pressure!


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 14:56:08

      That kind of makes me giggle. Did you get anyone encouraging you to write or did you just fade away into the land of non-writing?


  6. winsomebella
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 11:52:35

    You are a writers who has produced and continues to produce great writing. It’s good that you know what works and what doesn’t work for you. Good thoughts.


  7. LittleMissVix
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 12:14:46

    I feel the same way (no great surprise there :)), I just want to write more and fit in with my creativity and time and not feel the pressure of Nano but I really admire those taking part and wish them lots of luck!


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 14:53:33

      You already put enough pressure on yourself (I know I should say that to myself too). I’m glad you are not Nano-ing.


  8. Robin Hawke
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 13:40:54

    I’m NaNoWriting. All I can say is it’s an experience. I don’t seem to have a problem writing a bunch of words that add to the word count but little else.

    For me, the value comes from working outside my comfort zone. I’m not comfortable writing scenes I haven’t incubated. I’m not comfortable writing with a headache and a fried brain. So far, I’m not sure this is an experience I’ll love, or revisit. When the journey ends, perhaps I’ll have those answers, Robin


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 14:51:09

      Robin, thanks for the insiders perspective. I hope your headache goes away and you move beyond brain fry. Keep us informed. I wish you the best in this journey.



  9. Rose
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 02:03:51

    I agree with you. If it feels good, or you think it will motivate you in a way you need, great. It will work for some and plunge others into terror’s depths. Congrats on your output so far this month!


  10. amblerangel
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 02:25:06

    Your wise to recognize those things. And OF COURSE you are a writer. We all know that- and love that about you.


  11. lifeintheboomerlane
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 05:09:19

    Good post. Years ago, I wrote a novel which will never see the light of day. Then I wrote another which I had self-published only to see an actual book with pages. The a third, 90% completed, is destined never to reach 100%. It took all that to make me see that novel writing isn’t my vehicle. Much as I feel that novelists are the royalty of writers, I will never join them. I do believe writing takes discipline, but I also believe we have to respect our creative individuality.


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Nov 05, 2011 @ 09:13:12

      It’s funny, while I still love reading novels, I find myself browsing different kinds of books now. Essays and short stories, non-fiction and memoir. Blogging itself is its own format. The world for creativity is wide open for writers and sometimes I think the glut of novels is doing writing no good.


  12. thepetalpusher
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 08:37:12

    I wouldn’t want the pressure that NaNoWriMo would being me. When I retire in June, I shall seriously consider a novel. As for you? As I had said before, you are very prolific. Look how quickly you spit out that magic mushroom fairy tale–and it was fantastic! I’m a writer who would want to revisit the piece over and over.


  13. Trackback: Writing, Writing, and More Writing « Woman Wielding Words

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