November 1st-30th–National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know)–is when the entire world picks up a pen and writes thousands of words a day with the goal of finishing a novel in a month. Words pour from pens like ants racing to an abandoned picnic. People stop going to movies, watching TV, skip football games, all in the name of literary endeavor.
Last year, over 256,000 people participated. Over 36,000 of them were winners, defined in the rules as writing over 50,000 words. The tagline–thirty days and nights of literary abandon–couldn’t be more true. In any month but November, a novel would take from one to ten years to complete, exhaust the writer and infuriate those close to them who don’t understand how fictitious people can be so gal-darn fascinating.
Well, for the fourth year in a row (or the fourteenth if I count from Year One), I’ll be skipping this massive meeting of the minds. I weighed the pros and cons, lined them up on two sides of an 8.5×11 sheet of college lined notepaper, compared and contrasted, and realized it just won’t work for me. Here’s why:
- I don’t believe in miracles
- To rephrase Ashton Kucher, NaNoWriMo looks an awful lot like work
- I have to wash my hair (Is that excuse ever followed by something believable?)
- To rephrase Winston Churchill, It has all the virtues I dislike (hard work, cerebral endeavor, camaraderie) and none of the vices I admire (sloth, perspicacity, wordiness)
- Some books get clearer the more words you put into them; mine just gets murkier
- The ribbon broke on my typewriter (does anyone know what I’m talking about?)
- I have to get ready for Thanksgiving
- My protagonist’s on strike
- I don’t have anything to wear
- I burned that bridge last year
- Writing a novel in 30 days is one of the things I do best–along with finding needles in haystacks.
- I asked my husband if he’d support me in my endeavor. He said, “Sure”, in the tone of voice he uses to tell me the toilets are backed up again.
- Of course not. I don’t have to leap into a fire pit to know I’ll get burned.
- I don’t usually let sleeping dogs lie, but here, I’ll make an exception
- After all is said and done, a h*** of a lot more is said than done.
- I can write, but it won’t do any good
- If there is a God, he always takes a break November 1st – November 30th
- As an efriend once commented, “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, wore a hole in it and now use it as a duster”
- I like deadlines as much as sticking my tongue on a block of ice
- Ever see a car backfire? That’s my brain on NaNoWriMo
- The words that would be the roar in my engine never seem to show up
- NaNoWriMo doesn’t even beat hitting golf balls in sand traps
- The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, moves on
Anyone have one good reason why I should enter? No? You at the back of the room–speak up…
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is editor of a K-8 technology curriculum and technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.
#6 should be: keys jammed.
My keys were always jamming on the darn typewriter.
I’m sick this week and I seriously am doubting NaNoWriMo right now.
I remember those, too–two metal arms wrapped around each other. Usually because I typed too fast! Typewriters definitely had an upper limit to speed.
Only two? My biggest mash up was 5. I was flying way over the radar of typing speed on that one. I think two caught and the other three just joined them on the way back down.
5! There oughta be a record for that sort of thing.
Or: “I can’t find my eraser-with-the-brush-on-the-other-end thing,” or: “My ribbon is jammed on the red part.”
How I miss pica… 😉
Oh lord I hated Pica. I think I still have the eraser brush pencil somewhere….
😀 I think mine is in the drawer with my slide rule…
I said something to someone about using a manual typewriter and by the look on his face you might have thought I has slapped him with a fish or something…
I suspect the shock came from the concept of typewriter and manual in sequence.
Remember the ones where you had to hit the return lever at the end of the sentence? Electric typewriters were heaven except for those Blanking margins. I HATED margins.
Not sure if this helps you but here is my reasons for doing NaNoWriMo:
1. I’m not getting any younger.
2. The story in my head won’t write itself.
3. Nothing good comes easy.
4. My daughter is doing it with me.
5. Opportunity only knocks on your door, you still need to open it to welcome it into your life.
Of course this is my first year attempting and I may be going into it too optimistic, but I would hate to look back and say “what if I had tried that NaNoWriMo thing”, instead I will have a tale to tell to some unfortunate sole trapped in a car with me and is forced to listen.
I love that your daughter is doing it with you. Are you partner-writing?
Not really, she has her own story to write. We are motivating each other though.
I tried it once and really didn’t like it. I felt constrained by having to put x number of words down each day and by the time I was done I didn’t even want to touch the piece again. I know I can write (how well I can write is up to the reader, I suppose). I don’t need to hash out a certain number of words a day to prove it.
That being said, I’m certainly not putting down those who want to do NaNoWriMo. It just isn’t for me.
I suspect that’s how I’d feel if ever I tried it. Quotas aren’t my thing. I may hit them over and over, but not because they dangle in front of me.
I never do it officially–the 50K limit doesn’t work for me. I write better when I take my time, so the 50K isn’t effective for my style. What I do instead is give myself a word count that does work, usually around 25K. I use it like an exercise to build my writing ‘endurance’ and find it works if I give myself a goal I can reach every month (a writer who only writes 1 month a year doesn’t make much of a living…), because then I get back in the habit of writing almost every day, and can keep it all year long. It’s like an accountability task so I don’t fall off the wagon or something.
On the other hand, I know a lot of people who love it, and who get well over the 50K every time. Works for them, good for them.
I write quite a bit every day, but it’s varied–blogs, reviews, articles, yadda. To put all that into a novel–don’t know how I’d do that.
Jacqui Have no excuse my issue being I often start writing and then edit TOO much and never finish I am attempting the mad november challenge purely to get a very rough first draft up. Hopefully it will happen and I will have something to play with and work on after I do this…..I have read some stories from the challenge and they definitely need extra work…so the goal quantity not quality for me and then the fun begins in dec playing with my draft. Loved the excuse too!
Just get it down on paper! Me–I have to re-read to see where I am, then I edit and it all bogs down.
Whenever I think of participating in NaNoWriMo, the image of Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” comes to mind.
“All work and no play makes [Tony] a dull boy.” x 5,000.
There, I’m done.
Oh that’s quite an image. Now it’s stuck in my head.
I really wanted to do NaNoWriMo this year but I’m hard at work training for my first marathon. Running, running, running out of time.
No no no no no – my nose – what happened to my nose? It was never this long before………….
Hehehe. You are running a marathon, Shari, just not the physical type.
Wait – marathons are physical?
Heh. You’re so silly.
Not to be rude, but half of those reasons sound like, “I’m lazy and I like to whine.” I mean, I get that NaNo doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s alright (I’ve never won, but it gets me to write nonetheless, and I rarely do that without NaNo), but you seriously sound like you’re just making up excuses.
That’s my lame attempt at humor. I find life goes better with a joke.
In defense of Jacqui, who really doesn’t need a defense, she is the most not-lazy, not-whiney person I know. She works all the time, writes prolifically, and is a terrific mentor. Her post is a humorous take on the reasons many of us don’t do NaNoWriMo. You may not find it funny – always your choice to define funny – but I can’t let you accuse her of being lazy – simply a definition that doesn’t fit her.
I hope you enjoy your experience with NaNoWriMo this year and I wish you success.
I love you! Thank you!!! Yes, all the reasons I was thinking but couldn’t bring myself to face. It might be fun for some people but the pressure was making my already crazy life feel even crazier. I think my family of six would like Thanksgiving this year. And I do like clean hair. Sleeping is nice too, once in a while.
I didn’t know you had 4 children. I don’t know how you get anything done besides driving-cooking-homeworking-kidding.
Jacqui, I adore your humor in your 23 Reasons. I would love to be able to write humor but mine just doesn’t come across the way I want. Thanks for the 23 reasons, though, I am going to try it this year and thanks to the other person’s suggestion, I’m inviting my daughter to do it too. She’s written 85 novels-just never finishes them. Keep motivating my lazy butt!
I have a bit of a quirky sense of humor. I try not to take life seriously (even my wonderful God–I like to think s/he too has a sense of humor). Let us-all know how you and your daughter do with writing.
LMAO at #17! I believe that one too!
Ha! We could make that a ‘fill in the blank’ statement–‘If there is a God, s/he always takes a break ____________’ Hmmmm…. I can think of a couple endings.
BTW, Irene, I popped over to your blog just to see who you were and ended up reading your hilarious articles for almost 30 minutes! I really didn’t have that much time, but the Universe didn’t care. There I was. You’re pretty funny yourself.
NaNoWriMo is fun and creative, but I totally understand your reasons. At the same time, I think: “Why not?”. As long as it does not do any harm, isn’t that so? 🙂 Enjoyed your blog, a lot!
You’re so right–and that may prevail next year. I’m pondering as we speak!