You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty About NaNoWriMo

Posted: November 17, 2016 in Writing


In case you’re not familiar, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that aspiring authors attempt to write a complete 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30.  A lot of amazing writing has gotten done during past NaNoWriMos.

The social media arm of the world writing community do a lot to promote this. If you aspire to be an author, you can hardly get through the month of November without being reminded that Most of your fellow writers are knuckling down and keeping careful count of their daily word totals.

You can be forgiven for feeling a bit of peer pressure.  I mean it’s not Movember, where men grow moustaches during the month of November to help raise awareness for men’s health – moustaches just grow. Churning out an entire novel in 30 days takes a bit more of a commitment than putting down your razor.

Some writers “cheat” by only writing part of a longer novel, but still aiming for that 50,000 word goal. However they do it, they are justifiably proud when they make progress, whether or not they completely succeed in the end.

So what if you aren’t ready to commit, but feel guilty about that?  I’m here to tell you, there isn’t a writer out there who will say you have to participate. To begin with you have to subscribe to the notion of “quantity over quality,” at least for the month of November. Nobody expects you to have a polished manuscript on December 1. Just 50,000 consecutive story words on paper. It’s an exercise in just going for it. But rest assured, it isn’t for everybody. I myself have never participated, and don’t imagine I ever will.  For one, as much as I revise and polish my prose, I like to feel as if what I’m writing is good, not just the first words that fly put of my fingers. But even if I could put that personal bias aside, I don’t have a lifestyle that allows the kind of time needed to write 50,000 words in a month.  I only write at night after the rest of the family goes to bed (so I don’t take time away from “dad time” with my kids), and some nights I’m working on this blog or simply too tired.

So, hats off to all my fellow writers participating in NaNoWriMo! But if you’re not one of them, I respect you every bit as much.  We all write in our own way.

  1. Beth Aman says:

    Thank you for this! NaNoWriMo is a wonderful tool, especially for helping new writers get past their mental block of “I have to write perfectly on my fist try.” And it’s also great to give you the kick-in-the-pants to get back writing, if that’s what you need. But I totally understand the other side – I’m currently writing a sequel, and since it’s part of the grander scheme of the series, I don’t have the luxury to simply word-vomit whatever comes to mind. I’m also a full-time university student, so I don’t really have several hours every single day to write. And you know what? That’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty About NaNoWriMo November 17, 2016 […]


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