The Top Five Reasons for Not Doing NaNoWriMo This November
This week, we are excited to have Chris Baty guest posting on the blog. Chris is the founder of National Novel Writing Month, and author of several Chronicle Books. Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, why? If not, what’s holding you back? Share your reasons in the comments for a chance to win a copy of Ready, Set, Novel and a “Write Together” poster by illustrator Linda Eliasen, pictured below. We’ll pick a winner at random on October 15th. Open to US residents only. Plus, save 75% on the No Plot, No Problem e-book this month only! Click here for more info.
National Novel Writing Month (better known as NaNoWriMo) is fast approaching! Over 400,000 kids, teens, and adults will be taking part in the book-writing adventure this November.
I founded the event in 1999. In addition to writing the No Plot? No Problem! book and kit and co-authoring the Ready, Set, Novel workbook, I’ve spent the last fifteen years personally trying to recruit everyone I know into giving it a shot. Through my NaNoWriMo proselytizing, I’ve heard a lot of very sensible reasons why people who love the idea can’t take part themselves.
Just in case you (or someone you love) might be thinking of sitting out the fun this November, I’ve put together the Top Five Reasons For Not Doing NaNoWriMo here, along with my highly unbiased responses to those concerns.
1) “I’m too busy.”
This is good. You want to be busy when you write the first draft of a novel. Having a limited amount of time helps you be less critical of your prose, which in turn helps you get more writing done and have a better time doing it. Also, when you’re slammed, your novel becomes a refuge from the chaos of the rest of your life—a secret world you get to escape to at the end of a long day.
2) “I’m not a writer.”
You don’t need to be a writer to have a life-changing, joy-filled month bashing out a book. (For what it’s worth, many of the people who’ve found success with their NaNoWriMo novels didn’t see themselves as writers when they started their books either.) Also, even if you just do it once and decide you never want to do it again, writing your own novel will deepen your understanding and appreciation of the books you read in unexpected ways.
3) “I’ve done NaNoWriMo before. Do I really need another unfinished manuscript on my hard drive?”
Yes. And here’s why: This may be the year you write The One. The genius story that’s light-years better than anything you’ve written before. In my own writing life, these leaps happened completely randomly—on Novel Six and Novel Thirteen. If I ever finish obsessively revising either of them, these will be the novels I publish. And I never would have met them if I stopped writing new books after the fourth or fifth one.
4) “No one can write a good book in 30 days.”
This is sadly true. The most you can really hope for after a month of writing is a wildly imperfect draft. But you know what? Most of the books we love also started out as pale imitations of themselves. Novels just take a few drafts to find their footing. And you can revise a bad first draft into a wonderful book, but you can’t revise a blank page into anything but a blank page.
5) “I don’t have any ideas.”
I go into most of my novels scared I’m going to run out of material by the second paragraph. But then I think back to that time when we were kids, when all we needed was a crayon or some markers to unlock the universe of people, beasts, battles, and adventures hidden inside a blank piece of paper. That fearless inventiveness is still within us; your imagination has a dozen great, crazy novel ideas it would love to explore with you next month. Just show up at that blank page on November 1. Your imagination will take it from there.
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Latest posts by Chris Baty (see all)
- Your New Book Contract - October 23, 2014
- The Top Five Reasons for Not Doing NaNoWriMo This November - October 8, 2013
Hey Creative Person, This Pep Talk is For YouApril 18th, 2018
8 Free Online Databases to Find Diverse ArtistsFebruary 28th, 2018
3 Tips for Applying to the Chronicle Books Design FellowshipFebruary 13th, 2018
The Chronicle Books Gift GuideNovember 21st, 2017