Let’s get one thing out of the way: I don’t like NaNoWriMo for me. Just for me.
I think it’s awesome and works super-well for lots of other writers for tons of other reasons, but some people might in the same boat I’m in so I felt like I ought to write up a post about it.
(My first opinionated blog post in…months. Wow, where’d I disappear to?)
Okay, so National Novel Writing Month for me is kind of like pitch contests. If a pitch contest pops up, it doesn’t matter if I have nothing done or if all of the agents represent humorous nonfiction instead of scifi/fantasy, there’s part of me that wants to jump in. Submit. Be involved. Tap into that collective emotion of writers striving and hoping together.
I do the same thing with NaNoWriMo. Every. Damn. Year.
I tell myself I’m not interested, I’m not signing up, and then the buzz starts to build. People start logging in, creating their profiles, talking about their outlines or lackthereof, tagging each other with excitement and anticipation. And because I love writers and I love this community, I get swept up in it. I want to be a part of it, to fill that thrill of togetherness, and I forget NaNos past. I tell myself it’s all good, that I know I can draft 1667 words a day. Hell, I NaNo-ed mid-August to mid-September to finish my scifi project. No sweat, right?
Except…every November I rediscover that I’m not the type of writer who thrives in NaNoWriMo.
The daily updates; the trade and comparison of word counts; the drive to get there… It doesn’t inspire me. It doesn’t give me a lasting jump-start. It doesn’t help me keep my head down and draft harder. I wish it did because I want so badly to mix it up with the other NaNo warriors, but I usually get one or two days in and then just…balk.
I’m a contrary person, really. If you tell me I ought to do something, it suddenly becomes the least desirable thing on the planet. It’s hardly a unique quality; a lot of people hate being told what to do. But I often feel like NaNoWriMo is just that – some Vague Authority on High telling me what to do. It doesn’t matter that I know it’s not. It feels that way.
As soon as I came to this realization yesterday, I wish I had remembered before November 1st how incompatible my writing personality is with this task. Because now my negative feelings for NaNoWriMo are all tied up and intermixed with my feelings about my current project, so I have to set the whole tangle aside and give it space to breathe. To see if it’s got a life of its own still, outside of my conflicted relationship with this month.
I love NaNoWriMo. I love how first-timers and veterans alike can use it to get over that hump and get a draft down. But if there’s one thing I always have – and always will – advocate, it’s that every writer’s style is different. Drafting style, revising style, publishing style – we can only do what works for us, and we should never feel bad about that.
Me, for example – I’ll be letting go of my NaNo profile tomorrow. I will make that choice for me and my current and future stories, and (after a deep breath and some extra coffee) I won’t feel bad about it.
Instead, I will keep cheering for all of you out there – NaNo warrior or not. I will continue to fling spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks and figure out the type of writer I am.
And I will get this blog post title tattooed on my damn arm to help me keep my head next year when the anticipation starts building again.