5 Ways Nanowrimo Will Ruin Your Writing Forever

Did you fail Nanowrimo, or did it fail you?

Nanowrimo is not for everyone. But like Yoga, since it works for some people, they often swear by it.

Yoga enthusiasts simply can't believe that anyone wouldn't want to do yoga, and though they stay silent while they watch you huff out the door to go jogging, they are judging you. Nanowrimo enthusiasts are the same. "It's so obvious," they say. "Just write!"

Except, "just write" might be exactly the wrong advice for some of us.

For those of you that are wondering what Nanowrimo means, its stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write 50,000 words in a month. It's a great community, very supportive, extremely positive, and absolutely deadly for the careers of certain writers. I know because I am one of them.

Certainly, for some writers it is the perfect antidote to procrastination. It helps them to overcome their inner editor, and just get the work out there. However, it is not a cure for ALL writers, and for perhaps 25% of writers out there, Nanowrimo is a very bad choice.

Why? It really depends on how you feel about editing. That was a piece of advice I saw on the best writing blog out there, from P.C. Wrede. Her ideas on knowledge work  vs. physical work are especially useful for this discussion.

If you struggle with editing, then writing as quickly as possible is the worst mistake you could make. I found this out on my first two novels. I pushed through because although I am immensely incompetent, I am not a quitter.

I tried Nanowrimo twice and typed as quickly as possible in the 1.5 hours of morning I had available before work. I gave up sleep, and was grumpy towards my children, to write those damn novels. And at the end what I had created was an illegible, vague, illogical pile of crap.

For some people that is no big deal, but for me (as I found out) that was huge issue. So just understand that if you flame out of the Nanowrimo your problem may be that you are a quitter. Your problem may be that this process doesn't work for you (but you should try it to find out). And even if it's not working for you, if you started it, I suggest you finish the Nanowrimo.

Why? It will teach you a valuable lesson about what processes work for you, and it will teach you to keep your big mouth shut and not make stupid promises to your future self. As Mark Twain once said, "Always do sober, what you promised you would do while drunk."

So here are the five signs Nanowrimo will ruin your writing career:

  1. Writer's Block is Useful - Often writer's block is your intuitive mind telling you that you have made a wrong turn somewhere, and you need to go back and recalibrate your story path. If you are lost, don't blunder farther into the woods.
  2. You Hate Developmental Editing - If you a person who hates editing, especially at the project level (the level of story design) then the story will be destroyed by smashing forward. I am a poor typist, and a slow thinker, so this was especially difficult for me to handle.
  3. Words Concretize - You may suffer from the "I wrote it, so I have to use it" syndrome. This is especially true for the working-parent, with minimal time. Should you really dump all that concrete out, without the wooden forms in place?
  4. You Quit - If you realistically don't have the time to do it, then don't try it only to quit. Set realistic goals so you learn to succeed. Perhaps your personal Nanowrimo is: I will write 3 days a week.
  5. Your Family is Coming for Thanksgiving Week - Ummm... so.... Thanksgiving is a big family holiday in America. The kids will get off from school. You're going to have to go places and be social. Isn't January a better choice when it comes to writing time? Everyone hates eachother by then and they're tired of getting together. Plus November may have a bit of nice weather, January will not. So why fight against the balance of life? Go see your grandmother, then write that love story about Golems in January. Everyone knows that Golems love snow. You can do research then.

It is my great hope that this post helps to alleviate stress for those writers suffering from NISS (Nanowrimo-induced-stress-syndrome).

If it works for you, great. If it doesn't, great. Nanowrimo is a tool, and not all tools work for all humans. It's okay. You may need to take a different path to write your story. I give you permission.

Now go see your grandmother. Eat some pie. Play some Yahtzee. Give thanks for the life God gave you.

--Eric

Copyright (c) 2018 E.C. Stever.

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