I already wrote one post about NaNo, but as an eight-year veteran of NaNo, I thought I’d offer some advice for any newbies out there on whether or not NaNo is for YOU. On a lot of the message boards I frequent there have been those talking about why they are/aren’t doing NaNo, so here’s my two cents nobody asked for 😉
You should NaNo if…
- You have never written a complete novel before. I had never written a complete novel before I participated in NaNo back in 2002. I had been trying for 8 years, had probably about 50 finished and incomplete novels, and had never figured out what it took to get to “the end.” NaNo gave me the skills on how to reach that mark, allowed me to learn what I needed to do. Was it a great novel? No, but it got me to a point where I could, in the future, write a better novel.
- Your use shitty first drafts or get-it-all-out thinking in your writing process. For me, my first draft has to go fast or I get bored, distracted, frustrated, etc… My first draft is where I just get all the ideas out. If I worried about it being great, I’d be back where I was in the beginning. Never getting past the middle point. So, 50,000 words in 30 days is a great way to focus on getting the words down. I can always polish them up later.
- You’re stuck. If you’re feeling like you’re in a writing rut, or things aren’t going well, or you’re stuck on a WIP, NaNo may be just the kick in the pants you need to get your words rolling again. It can be a great way to jump start something, to learn something about your writing self.
- What’s the worst thing that could happen? You don’t finish, but you got some writing done. What’s the harm? Your failure costs you NOTHING!
You should not NaNo if…
- You know your process, and going fast isn’t a part of it. At this point in my writing life, I can write a novel without NaNo, but I still enjoy the challenge. Still, I don’t need it anymore. If you’re comfortable with your process, and it doesn’t fit the constraints of NaNo, you probably shouldn’t participate.
- Pressure leaves you a nervous wreck. The pressure is big in NaNo, though granted it is all self-inflicted. But, if you don’t write well under pressure, you probably shouldn’t put yourself through NaNo.
I have decided to NaNo. I’m hoping I can finish my WIP before then, but if not I’ll be doing both (insane, yes).
The bottom line is, I start teaching full time again for three months in mid-November. I’m going to need specific motivators to keep me writing. Also, as an unpublished novelist, writing keeps my mind off the finished products off in slush pile land. And, it makes me feel like I have a continued line of possibilities to get me to that publication goal.
So, even though it’s totally crazy, I signed up for NaNo (NTHelm)! Good luck to my fellow NaNo-ers.