With November almost upon us, I wanted to broach the subject of National Novel Writing Month. Quite simply, this is a short outline of the prospective positives and negatives of participating in NaNoWriMo. By their own description, NaNoWriMo “…is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.” Quite a novel concept, right?
So, should you participate in this challenge or not? There are many reasons to do so, and I’m going to touch on a few of them. If you’re someone who has a ton of ideas, and who is constantly outlining, researching, and conceptualizing them without actually writing much, if at all, this might be for you. If you’ve written lots of short stories, but aren’t sure if you’re ready to step up to writing novels, NaNoWriMo can be a nice exercise to see if it’s something for you. I mean, if you can manage the daily word count necessary to complete it, you can handle a nice, steady word count to work on longer novels. That leads me to time. If you’ve been wanting to write a novel, and you have time on your hands in November, well, this is a great use of your time and the perfect opportunity to try.
You don’t have to be a beginner to make good use of NaNoWriMo, either. For writers who have fallen out of the habit of working on their WIP (work-in-progress), it can be a nice, structured method of pushing yourself to work on it. There’s no rule against merely continuing a WIP, either. If you’re seeking a spark to get you started on a new project, this might be for you, too.
That said, NaNoWriMo isn’t for every writer every year. I’ll give you the reasons I won’t be taking part this year. I participated in it a while back, and while it was perfect for me then, it would be a terrible idea for me now. Why? I’m plugging along and making great headway with my WIP, and have an established process for it. Changing my process and forcing myself to increase my word count per day would take me out of my rhythm. I also don’t want to stop my WIP to write a short novel project this November. And, with the types of genres I’m writing, it would be difficult to market an extremely short, stand-alone novel; writing more books to go along with it would further delay my WIP, and I don’t want another novel that probably won’t sell. I may do NaNoWriMo again in the future, but not this year.
These are just a few of the reasons why it might not make sense to participate in NaNoWriMo. I could come up with more, just as I could come up with more positives to doing so. In the end, as a writer, you must weigh the pros and cons of NaNoWriMo and decide if it’s right for you. Having the organization and the concept out there, along with all the support it provides, can be nothing but positive, because it gives us writers creative options.