Should I do NaNoWriMo? 2019 thoughts

I’m up early, getting some work done before going for a run, and apparently this morning thing is making me ambitious. Every year around this time, I ask myself: Should I participate in National Novel Writing Month? (NaNoWriMo for short.)

This event — really, a challenge — involves writing a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. While one could, of course, choose any 30-day stretch to bang out that number of words, it’s kind of fun to know that thousands of other people are playing along. Whatever you write in 30 days won’t be a good novel, but it will be a manuscript. You can then take your time editing, but in my experience, it is much easier to turn something into something better than to turn nothing into something.

So, that’s the appeal. Since I’ve done this challenge a handful of times (including with Juliet’s School of Possibilities! Though that’s shorter than 50,000 words) I know I can do it. I also know how. Write 1667 words per day, or, if you only intend to work 20 days in November (more likely — everyone loses a day here and there), write 2500 words per writing day. That takes me about two hours. Some days I might be better or worse than others but probably I could do this whole project in 50 hours or less.

The upsides: I’ve been complaining that I’m not doing much creative just-for-me writing. I enjoy writing fiction. I wouldn’t mind having another novel manuscript to play around with. Long-term, maybe I could get it out into the world.

The downsides: Well, two hours a day isn’t nothing. My travel/work schedule is much lighter for November than October, but I will be even more pregnant and possibly more tired. I could invest this time in getting ahead for January and February. Perhaps most importantly: I don’t have a burning idea of what to write about. I’d need to spend the next few weeks pondering an outline. I might also feel guilty neglecting the 50,000 word novel I wrote LAST YEAR. Theoretically, I could turn that something into something better. In 40-50 hours of editing, it would definitely be better than it is now. So should I double down on that? Hard to know.

I could do a hybrid — adding 50,000 or so words to my existing novel. That would change it quite a bit. Broaden the scope, which might be fun. It might also weigh it down like snow on a too-old roof.

In any case, these are the things I ponder. Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Are you thinking of doing it this November?

(Note: Word count a little less than 500 words on this post. It took me less than 20 minutes to write. That suggests a rate of 1500 words/hour but I think that’s too ambitious a goal to sustain for a whole manuscript).

15 thoughts on “Should I do NaNoWriMo? 2019 thoughts

  1. I’ve always wanted to do this, but never have had the time. Probably not this year either. If you were going to do it this year, a hybrid approach seems sensible. It would be neat to see if you could turn last year’s novel into something good! I say go for it.

    1. @omdg – I think I am leaning toward the hybrid approach. I kind of like the novel I wrote. I think it is redeemable. It just needs…work.

  2. I think you should add to and edit your existing novel – but maybe have a smaller goal for additional words like 25,000. Also, I love your analysis of your writing speed. I know for academic writing I average about 200 words/hour which is a snail’s pace compared to yours but that is with citations and adding graphics as necessary. And it is also an average – sometimes it takes me a whole hour to summarize some one else’s paper, but the word count is only 50 words.

    1. @Dominique – agreed that the type of writing often matters a lot. If I’m really having to think it through it goes very slowly. And you’re right that 25k words might be a better addition, with some serious editing as well.

  3. Yes, I am planning to participate this year. I’ve wanted to do it for some time, so I put the task on my 19 for 2019 list. I’m hoping that participating will help me to develop a daily writing routine which is one of my items on my List of 100 Dreams.

    1. @Katherine – good for you for putting it on the list for this year! It will certainly help you figure out which spots in your schedule could potentially be used for writing.

  4. I don’t understand why November is the month for this. I know November and novel both start with n-o, but November is a busy month heading into the holidays. January, February – those months are cold and no one wants to do anything. But then I wouldn’t have the camaraderie of it all. So, to answer your question, I’ve always wanted to do this but never have and probably won’t do it this year either.

  5. Well.. for the pondering, would you do it today (write for two hours on your existing novel)? Do you want to do it and do you want to plan for it (because, two hours every day or (on average) is not nothing at all)? Do you need to sit down for two hours in one sitting or can you do 20 minutes here and there? Pondering, wondering, for me, ’tis not a good season to take part in NaNoWriMo. Have fun if you do, that’s most important, I think!

  6. I was thinking about doing NaNoWriMo, too, but it’s exactly the worst month of the year, it’s end of the academic year, and at work people want to wrap everything up before they hit the holidays, and it’s also when we take the week long vacation, and there is also my favorite conference most years.
    I also don’t write fiction, I tried for non-fiction the last couple of years, but there is less support for that, so don’t think there is as much advantage to NaNoWriMo for non-fiction. So I think I might create a draft based on one of the non-fiction outlines I have in January, which is quiet and the best month to do it.
    In the meanwhile I’m honing my writing habit by using 750words app every morning, and trying to get 50,000 words per month this way. It is much easier doing a mind-dump, but it still creates the habit. I also use it to do advance time log and plan out my days this way, so it’s a time-management routine, too.

  7. Did it several years ago – no complete novel, but a good 25,000 words, which morphed into a complete novel a year later. Now that I am working full-time, it’s even more tricky. However, I have been trying to prep by really making an outline. I heard Jeffery Deaver speak at a conference this year and he spends months on outlining before he really writes. I may not go that far, but I’m trying a slightly new approach inspired by that.

  8. As far as people worried about the time factor: you spend 2 hours a day on things you can give up for a month. (TV-2 shows, recreational reading, shopping just for fun, movies & more. Your not going to give them up forever, only 30 days & you can do that.

  9. I’ve been doing it for a while and I always find it a lot of fun! I do a lot of the social stuff in my region, though, and I know that’s not for everyone.

    If you’re going to do it, though, it sounds like you’ll have more fun with continuing your project than starting a new one. Good luck either way!

  10. I’ve been doing Nano since 2010 and Ive always found that even if I dont finish the manuscript for that year my creative drive has always been higher afterwards. I say go for it .

  11. I ask myself the same question every year, but then, despite all bad intentions, I cannot resist. I dive into the writing rush and go for it.
    The issue for me is not what to write, since I’m writing a saga, the first volume born during last year’s NaNo. This year it is time for volume 3 (volume 2 being written during this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo).
    So let’s go for it, everyone.

  12. I think you should really consider writing the 50,000 onto your current novel. Like you said those words aren’t all going to stay. Your finished novel won’t be 100,000 words (probably) but this will get you grinding on it again which is the goal. I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year and starting fresh even though I have other novels I should be working on. But I’m just more ready for this one, I guess.

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