What No NaNoWriMo Taught Me
As in years past, this week seems to be one of reflection and dissection. It makes sense, after a month of shared stress and potential misery to either commiserate or co-celebrate.
This year I made the choice not to participate. I have made the same decision each of the past two years—to not participate—but each of those years I have caved in to peer pressure (or maybe just to the idea that I was missing some shared experience). However, this year I stuck to my guns, and stayed out of the fray.
And after watching the NaNo Scrum from the sidelines I am positive that I made the right decision. But to take it a step further, standing on the NaNo sidelines I have decided that I won’t participate in the future.
Why? you ask. It’s all the rage…everyone is dong it.
Well, since you asked I’ll do my best to put my feelings on the matter into words:
- It’s a gimmick. It may be a gimmick that works for some, but it’s a select few. Most of us either fall short, or don’t finish the novel.
- It’s not habit forming. Contrary to we have all led ourselves to believe participating in NaNoWriMo for 30 days does not form lasting habits, because we’re practicing a non-sustainable habit (at least for those of us who cannot afford to write full-time). NaNoWriMo no more gives us healthy writing habits than cooking a huge holiday meal gives us good kitchen habits.
- It’s too rigid. I’m not a fan of the one size fits all goal and structure. But on top of the the fanatical, nee maniacal, pursuit of the 1,667 word daily goal forces most of us to make silly, spur-of-the-moment choices. We make bad plot decisions, and with no opportunity to go back and correct things, many of us take perfectly good ideas and grind them into dust.
- It’s exhausting. And not in a good way. Does anybody cross the finish line jumping for joy and with the drive and interest to keep pushing on? I’m sure some do, but no one I know. Everytime I’ve hit December 1, it’s been with the same sigh of accomplishment given at the end of a grueling marathon…in Las Vegas…in summer.
- It’s peer pressure. Be honest here, and raise you hand if you only NaNo because everyone else is doing it (in case you’re wondering, my hand is up).
So I’m through with it. If my writing buddies join in next year I’ll wish them well. I’ll cheer them on. If they’re successful—whatever that means to them—I’ll congratulate them. And if they fall short, or lose interest in their character, or carry 50k word rough draft with them for the next two years, I will not say I told you so.
But I will not NaNo—not anymore.