National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is the biggest social writing event of the calendar year. I’ve attempted it four times, won once, and generally encourage every writer (and even a few non-writers) I know to try it for themselves. Even if you don’t make the expected 50k word count, it remains a lot of fun and usually leaves you with at least some salvageable words to work with.
But, after much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, I decided not to participate this year.
And I’m so glad I didn’t.
NaNo places a lot of stress on a person. It’s bloody hard to keep up the pace of writing 1667 words per day, especially if you’re already working full time and have little children in your life. Just finding the time to make up the quantity of words, and then feeling horrible about their quality, is enough to set my teeth on edge.
I’m not trying to make an excuse for not writing, I’m just saying that this year I really didn’t need that kind of pressure.
Instead, I plodded along at my own pace. Some days writing my usual 500 words, others firing up at 2k per day, mostly plodding along at 300 words per day. Sometimes a week or so passed without any words at all.
And that’s just fine.
I know it’s not a professional mindset and I won’t be winning any awards for being prolific. But this tempo suits me. Like many creatives, I suffer from depression and occasional anxiety, and sometimes my well is just dry and I need to spend my free hours refilling it (usually by reading someone else’s books instead of working on my own). Sometimes, instead of racing against the clock or a specified word count, I’d really rather just sleep until I’m able to face the next day again. They say one should prioritise writing, but writing can never be a priority if you don’t prioritise yourself first.
In any event, in the month of November I managed to write just over 10k words, the complete first draft of the next instalment of my Mythical Menagerie series. And I did it at my own pace without the pressure of a near-insurmountable 30-day deadline, or the dejection that comes with not meeting an almost impossible target.
It may not be the arbitrary amount of 50k that most other writers raced towards that month, but it is a fully plotted, fully written coherent first draft that I’m pretty proud of.
And that’s a win no matter how you look at it.
Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? How did it go?