As most writers are well aware, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in November. They don’t have to be good words—just words in a story. Do I accept the challenge? Nope.
I’m not saying never because it would be nice to go to wake up on December 1st with a whole cart-load of words smiling back at me. But I could also wake up on December 1st and see my keyboard had been hammered into oblivion, which is much more likely.
And it’s hard not to feel a little behind while of all those other writers are finishing all those words while I don’t. I repeat Max Ehrmann’s quote, “If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain or bitter for always there will be greater or lesser persons than yourself.”
NaNoWrite Mo isn’t a challenge to be taken lightly. Most people who’ve been writing for awhile know about how many words they manage and their writing style before they ever begin. I do. Definitely.
If you’re a beginning writer it can seem like a brilliant idea to just push yourself and get those words for that novel down on paper.
Screech to a halt and think about it first. Maybe the motivation to simply finish a novel in a month isn’t the right one for you. Maybe the thing to focus on is what actually motivates long-term productivity and how to achieve that. A quick contest might be best for you, but it isn’t for everyone. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Do you want to write a novel, or to “have written?” If you feel guilty about not doing well in the contest remember, most people who like to drink wine don’t grab the bottle and chug as fast as they can. Some like to sip. To taste.
If writing feeds your spirit, or just the fellowship of sitting with other authors and talking about writing, then you’re on the right path. So what if you only manage 5,000 words instead of 50,000 during November? Do that for a year, and you’ll have a novel.
So what if you attend a writing group and haven’t started your book yet? It’s not like you’re standing on a street corner waiting for a UFO to pick you up. There are worse places to spend your time than with a group of writers—I’m sure. They might try to talk you into critiquing their novel for them, but those are the risks you take.
Every day is a new writing day. Don’t beat yourself up if NaNoWriMo isn’t for you. Some people are quick writers. Some not. Diversity among writers is good. Without it, we’d all finish the same book.
*Note that the model above is wearing safety glasses.