Why I Don’t Do NaNo: An IWSG Post


Good day, my friends. 

It’s the first Wednesday of the month. And that means it’s time for my contribution to the Insecure Writers Support Group. The first Wednesday of each month, writers and bloggers share their writing stories to encourage writers of all levels. If you have any questions or would like to participate, clink on the link to learn more. 

So by this time, many writers have started their quest to write 50k words for NaNoWriMo. And this month’s optional question was geared toward NaNo. I haven’t even participated in NaNo, so answering the question is out of the question. But I thought I would insert my two cents and explain why I haven’t participated in NaNo at all.

I’ve been encouraged by a lot of writing friends to participate in this challenge. And it is a challenge. Even certain members of my family have spurred me to do it. But I feel NaNo isn’t right for me. But before I begin, this requires a preface. I recently posted on social media that I was listing off a lot of regrets in my writing journey. And it’s come at an inopportune time. So, take it with a grain of salt.

Now, here’s why I don’t think NaNo will work for me:

  1. I’m not good with word count goals. Don’t get me wrong. Writing so many words is a huge benchmark. But coming up with about 1700 words a day is daunting. It’s hard enough to produce even 1000 on any given day. And that’s even with me joining a Facebook writing group that encourages meeting word counts. Writing so many words for 30 days straight doesn’t seem feasible, even though I did such a feat back in July. And that leads me to my next reason. 
  2. I don’t have the time to sit and write every day. Like most writers, I have to balance writing with a full-time life. I work two jobs and I help out with the family. That’s roughly 3/4 of my day. Granted, I have my breaks during work, so I can write then, but I’m a slow writer. For me, meeting the ideal daily word count goal will take hours (with breaks sprinkled in, of course).
  3. I’m a writing perfectionist. Finding time to write is challenging enough for me. But I’m really bad when it comes to perfectionism. Even with a first draft, my inner critic is ever present, looking over my shoulder. It doesn’t matter if I write on my laptop or with paper and pen. Every fiber wants to make changes while I write. (It’s worse writing on my laptop, by the way.) I feel like I get nothing accomplished; like I made no progress. 
  4. I’m bad when it comes to creating ideas for projects. It’s said that there are no more original ideas; just better ways to tell the story. And I wholehearted agree with that statement. I will dare take it a step further and say the retellings are becoming redundant. Now granted, this is a lame excuse. I can research prompts on Google, Pinterest, or anywhere on social media. The problem is, like my yearning to be perfect in writing my draft, I have this need to be perfect in my execution. I freeze in fear just at the thought of trying to come up with something new.
  5. I’m constantly comparing myself to others. Like the perfectionism, there’s this fear that I will not be as good as others. I want to be happy for my fellow writers, but there’s a part of me that feels I should be where they are. I feel reading word count statuses will make things worse for my self-esteem. It’s bad enough I beat myself up for things I haven’t done. NaNo might make it ten times worse.
  6. I have a fear of failure. This is the last, and arguably, the most crippling reason. As much as I say I don’t, I can be pretty competitive. I feel the need to be good at whatever I do. Especially writing. 50k words is certainly doable, but what if I don’t meet that goal? What does that say to me as a writer? These are questions I ask myself even with the Writing Club on Facebook. I look at the stat sheet and see how many words people produce in a day. I feel inadequate because I have trouble meeting my measly goal every day. 

I apologize that this post is contradictory to the purposes of the group. But I have a responsibility to be honest with my blog followers. Now by no means, this is not to discourage anyone from participating in NaNo. And it’s not to say that I will never try at hand at the challenge. I might do Camp NaNo where I can set my own word count goal. But right now, I’m not at a place where I can commit to such a challenge. But rest assured, I will be on the sidelines, cheering my fellow writers on.

What about you? Are you participating in NaNo this year? Have you participated before? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments. I want to know your thoughts. 

Write on, my friends. And to those participating in NaNo, good luck. 

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    Author: G. R. McNeese

    I'm originally from Illinois, currently residing in Georgia. I graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing. I am blessed with a supportive wife and family.

    7 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Do NaNo: An IWSG Post”

    1. Hi, G.R. I’m not doing NaNo this year either, because the timing doesn’t fit. A: I’m deep into revising and existing manuscript and don’t want to put that on the back burner to start something new, and B: November brings lots of demands from family. Now, if NaNo happened in March, that might be another story. Best of luck on your writing journey. I was once where you are now: trying to sandwich writing time into a busy work & family life. That you get any writing done is a victory.

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    2. I’ve done NaNoWriMo probably seven or eight times. My first time, I just wanted to see if I could do it, and it turns out that the format just kind of clicked with me. Since then, I’ve managed to “win” five sessions (two camp, three regular). And none of them were easy because of day jobs or families or holidays, but I still love to participate in it. Sure, I get cranky when I can’t sit down to write every day, or when I can’t get my 1667 words done every day, and I really do hate to lose, but at the end of the 30 days, win or lose, I have a shiny, new story idea with which to play at a later time. So I guess that makes it worth it for me.

      I’m not taking part in it this year, though. Too many other projects demanding my time. Hope to get back to get next year.

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    3. Not negative at all. It’s important, as a writer, to know what works best for you. Right now, NaNoWriMo isn’t the best challenge for you. Maybe in the future that will change but with all the things going on in your life, I completely understand why it’s not a good idea.

      My first attempt at NaNoWriMo was during college when I was taking classes full time and worked as a Resident Assistant on campus (it wasn’t considered a “full time” job on paper but it definitely was. Maybe more than that since I was always on call). I failed miserably and yeah it sucked, it made my confidence go down because of course I wanted to do well but it was just impossible for me to do it at that time.

      Camp NaNo definitely sounds like a better choice for you. I tried it for the first time during the summer and it was not as stressful. Setting my own goals was nice. I set how many hours I expected to edit my novel each day instead of a word count which I also feel might work out better for you.

      But I hope you never make fear a reason for not giving something a shot. I know, easier said than done but it’s true. I have a terrible habit of comparing myself to other writers too (I’m struggling through it right now as I type xD) but you can’t dwell on that for long. There’s tons of people out there who will like your writing. It’s surprising but true. Everyone has their own taste and your writing will be someone’s taste. So try not to worry about it, work at your own pace, and accomplish your goals. That’s what’s most important. Who cares how many words someone else writes if it never turns into a novel and accomplishes anything? As long as you’re writing, then that’s good enough. That’s the whole point of NaNoWriMo anyway, to encourage people to write every day.

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    4. I think that every writer must choose the path that’s right for them and only you can know that. I think it was a great post. You took an honest and brave position. An insecure person might cave to peer pressure, even if it’s not right for them. I applaud you true courage. Write On in YOUR way!

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    5. A very honest and heartfelt post. Thank you for that. I would love to be able to do nanowrimo and did try one year. But, after only six thousand words I dried up and that was that. I find ideas don’t come to me and I am not inspired enough write a whole novel. Maybe one day. I do like to write flash fiction and poetry though and completed the octpowrimo challenge of writing a poem a day in October. That I can manage . So, for now I’ll continue with that. …

      gramswisewords.blogspot.com

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    6. Your reasons are straightforward, which I cannot say the same about mine. Despite the fact I have the time to do this “contest”, I have a problem gauging time, ending thinking I don’t have enough of it even though I might. I am obsessed with watching the time. I look at the bottom right corner of my PC screen at least every 15 to 20 minutes just to check the current time. NaNoWriMo would probably drive me insane.

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    7. I love NaNo because it helps to spur me along with just getting words on the page – I tend to use it as a time for structured brainstorming/brain-dumping, and then pull apart what I wrote to use as seeds for stories in the future. I love the community it helps me be a part of.
      That said, it’s CERTAINLY not for everyone! We all have our own ways to write, our own things that help spur us along as writers, and what’s most important is we find those things that work for us to help us on our writing journey 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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