Welcome back. The debate, as continued from Wednesday, is this: NaNoWriMo—do it or skip it? Wednesday’s post was Four Reasons You Should Skip It, but let it never be said I didn’t give you all the facts. So here’s the sequel: Four Reasons You Should Do NaNoWriMo.
1. You never finish anything. Do you have a hard drive filled with half-completed manuscripts? Do all your novels fall stillborn from your word processor, trailing chapters and half-realized character abortions? Do you obsessively edit and re-edit the first few chapters, waiting to get them perfect before moving on? Then NaNo can help. It teaches you to let go of unattainable perfection and work at getting to know her way-more-approachable sister: completion. You can always go back and edit later. Perfection can wait. Completion? Not so much.
2. You get discouraged during long projects. I’m not always a group person*, preferring a Fortress of Solitude, but if you get ground down by the slog, a group can pick you up. When I was learning to run, I joined a local group of beginner runners for a once-a-week jog. It kept me training and it provided encouragement. Your local NaNo groups can work the same way. Whether you meet in meat-space or on the forums, having other people who are going through the exact same shit you are can provide a much-needed boost just when you need it. Just remember to return the favour when someone else stumbles.
3. You want to learn daily dedication or the weekend marathon: The basic maintenance word count to complete NaNo is 1,667 words per day. That will get you there in thirty days without time off. You ever wanted to develop a habit of writing every single day? This is a great way to try the training wheels of accountability without anything actually riding on it, like a pay cheque. Or, alternatively, maybe you’d like to try writing only on the weekends. That means you’ll have to hit 6,250 words per day. Want to find out if you’ve got the guts for that kind of marathon session? Welcome to NaNo. I usually aim for 3,000 words a day, five days a week, and finish early. But I hammered out that schedule by doing NaNo for a couple of years and tinkering with different routines. This one works, so it stuck. November could be a great time for you to try a new writing routine.
4. You want to know what’s it’s like to be
a coked-out monkey in the zone. The short time frame and mandatory word count mean that you have to focus for that month. I’m not going to lie, you may neglect some things. Your hobbies. Your family. Your attention to daily hygiene. But the intensity of doing something with that kind of single-minded focus is incredible. All my best work has come from very short, very intense bursts, where I was so deeply immersed in what I was writing that there was no room for other ideas. Fuck you, Siren, I’m totally committed to this word marriage. Last year’s NaNo novel was pretty goddamn good. I got so into it that it ended up being over 90,000 goddamn words. In thirty days. Admittedly, I drank so much coffee I may have had a small heart attack and not noticed. But, still: worth it.
You don’t have to take it to my extreme**, but if you’re a project slut, then this can be a way to hone your focus. Try a thirty day whirlwind romance with your story. Devote yourself to it. And marvel at the crazy, wonderful, completely fucked up stuff you make together.
That’s my two cents. Four cents. Actually, counting the last post, more like eight cents. I have given you all the advice on this issue I have. Now, it’s time to make your own decision.
So, what are you going to do: saddle up or sit out?
*That guy who just sarcastically said, “You don’t say”: I heard you. And now I know where you are.
**In fact, I recommend against it, unless you’ve got a reinforced stomach.
- 4 Reasons To Skip NaNoWriMo (bareknucklewriter.com)