Why Annie Doesn’t Do NaNoWriMo


Hello!  Today’s little blog post is something I’ve been reading a lot about lately: NaNoWriMo.  I’ve seen a lot of people who swear by NaNoWriMo, but I’ve never participated myself for several reasons and I’m going to discuss those reasons.

Brief disclaimer: I am neither condoning nor condemning NaNoWriMo.  I think it’s a fabulous device to get people writing, but these are my reasons why I choose to not participate.  If you have done NaNoWriMo in the past, please let me know your thoughts in the comments–I’d love to hear why you chose to participate and what you got/didn’t get out of the experience.

That being said, let’s get this show on the road!

I’m a very sporadic writer.  I could write thirteen words one day and three thousand the next, so I get bogged down by the idea of a schedule or an outline.  While this an unreliable way to write a book, it works for me.  The idea of pigeonholing my creative process into a detailed schedule with word count requirements scares me: I’m fairly certain I would get three days in and call it quits because my characters would tell me to write one thing while my outline would tell me to write another.

I’m also a firm believer in the idea that writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint.  I don’t want to race against the clock to crank out pages and put words on paper; I want my story to live and breathe and take its own form on its own schedule.  Expecting myself to write a full novel in a month feels like a double-edged sword, a challenge and a set-up for failure.  I would rather take two years to tell my story right than cram it all into a month and come out of it with a project I’m less than proud of.

Another reason why I don’t do NaNoWriMo is the time commitment.  November is smack in the middle of the American school year and finding time in the day to write 1,667 words is a challenge.  I’m sure I could find the time if I made NaNoWriMo a priority, but I have more pressing things to do.  I know that sounds callous coming from me, but it’s true.  I have school and work and a million other things that need my dire attention in the month of November and, sadly, I have no room for excess.

Also, I’m halfway through a manuscript (that is almost 50,000 by the way so yay!).  Participating in NaNoWriMo would mean putting my current project on hold and picking up something entirely new, which I’m not interested in doing.  I’m so invested in the world of my current project that plotting something else could give me word-induced whiplash.

That’s all!  If you did NaNoWriMo in the past, what did you think?  If you are like me and haven’t done NaNoWriMo, why did you choose to not participate?  Let me know in the comments to keep the conversation going.  And don’t forget to check out my Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Wattpad, and Spotify to share the social media love <3


30 thoughts on “Why Annie Doesn’t Do NaNoWriMo

  1. I tried to do NaNoWriMo once and I didn’t enjoy it. Not only did it stress me out trying to keep up with the word count, I found that all the events (ie Writing Sprints, live broadcasts, etc) were really inaccessible. They all seemed to happen at 1 or 2 in the afternoon and I work full time. It felt pretty clear to me that they didn’t want to cater to people who had to work or go to school. I’m sure it’s a great tool for some people, but it’s definitely not for me!

      1. For sure. I think if people want to explore different ways to inspire themselves, NaNoWriMo is an option, but if you don’t think it will work for you, don’t worry about it! Find something else. 🙂

  2. I did the young writers’ program and wrote the very rough draft of Captain Guinevere. I didn’t outline it, either- a week before it started I had no clue what my novel would be about. And outlines have always stressed me out.
    Yes, I had to put my other project on hold, but at the same time I think it’s been good for it. I’ve been able to reflect on it and notice that it might be in need of a POV change amongst other things.
    So I loved it the year I succeeded (I tried last year for the CG sequel, and with the stress of getting CG out there I completely failed) and I certainly don’t regret it- it gave me Gwen, which led to all the other characters I love, and it gave me a full draft to edit and put out into the world. So I, personally, love it. 🙂

  3. I’ve participated in Nanowrimo twice now and really enjoyed it. For me at that time, its about quantity not quality. Its a great way for me to really get myself writing consistantly and with a goal in mind. I just have so many projects started they are done in pieces and Nanowrimo gets me a chance to focus on one only and get my plot out there. The editing process is obviously a lot longer, harder, and constantly changing. So I try to think of Nanowrimo as a focus month on one piece, just to get the idea out there and in some sort of organized timeline for my story. As for quality, thats saved for my editing phase later on which requires a lot more time and energy. Im not sure if this helps you, but this is how I use Nanowrimo(:

  4. Hello!
    Loved reading this post. I am a Nano-fan but I agree that it is not for everybody. For sure, if you prefer taking your time working on a story, or if you write sporadically from day to day, it makes sense that you don’t like Nanowrimo. Everyone writes at their own pace, and it’s not always a good idea to force things!
    I wrote the first draft of my novel during Nanowrimo. Although I was able to meet the word count requirements, not all of it was good writing (actually most of it was bad writing!) and I ended up rewriting pretty much everything anyway. Sometimes slow and steady is better! But I suppose it was a fun challenge to get the creative juices flowing 🙂
    I think Nanowrimo are for certain types of people:
    1. people who find it hard to commit to and finish a story, and need a challenge to motivate them (this is what made me join my first Nanowrimo)
    2. people who tend to write consistently every day anyway (I think I fall in this category now. I find that around 1000-2000 words/day is a target for me. I don’t hit it every day but it evens out for me over time.)
    Kudos to you for your progress on your novel so far! Definitely, no sense putting aside a story (which you seem to be very passionate about) for Nanowrimo.
    Sorry for the long comment!


  5. I’ve done NaNo a few times and I honestly like doing it. I’m guilty of not prioritizing writing so I feel I benefit from it. This year I plan to actually outline as I haven’t in some time!

  6. I’ve always enjoyed NaNo and the flexibility of it, but like most good things, it’s not for everyone . (You don’t actually have to come up with a new novel. People add on to previous novels or work on editing.) For me, it’s a loose structure with a clear goal. The community you find there is great as well 🙂

    1. I’ve heard of several writers using NaNo as a way to push themselves to write, whether or not they actually reach the word count. In truth, I’d never thought about it like that before. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I’ve done NaNoWriMo five years running, and have ‘won’ every time. The first few years, I was a carer, so I was able to set up specific times to write – the first year it took me 17 days, the second year 13 and the third 8. Now that I have an everyday job, I book time off in November especially to take part, and so for the past two years I’ve completed the first draft of my books in a week – which is absolutely exhausting, but I work really well having a routine and a deadline. For me, I find it improves my writing because I am almost ‘living’ the story as I go – it stays fresh in my head and so reduces the number of times I have to look back over things. As for outlining, I only really outline the first few chapters to help me get going, with a rough idea of where I want the story to go from there. And I try as hard as I can to put my ‘editor’ brain aside and just focus on getting the story down. Editing comes later – even the biggest plot-holes and limp characters can be fixed. I do confess, though, that I rarely check the website other than to update my word count because I feel like reading articles and blogs will distract me from my task.

  8. I actually tried to participate in NaNoWriMo and reach 50,000 words once (I think). Now I just use the month as inspiration to put some books aside and spend more time writing. I don’t pressure myself to reach a certain word count and if my “writing” is plotting out a new idea that’s cool too! I agree that it’s a lot of pressure, especially in the middle of the school year, but I think it’s nice to have an extra push to put other things aside and write a bit more than I would usually

  9. Hello, NaNoWriMo veteran here. I have been a participant since 2006 and a Municipal Liaison in charge of a region since 2008. NaNoWriMo’s goal and deadline works for me and helps me stay motivated. Plus I find having the camaraderie with other writers helps keep me going as well. The first five years I participated in NaNo, I was a full-time college student with two or three on campus jobs, and I managed to reach the goal of 50,000 words in the month while still completing all of my coursework as well. Understandably not everyone can handle that kind of hectic schedule, but I found that the more I had to do, the more focused I stayed through the month. And while it is true that NaNoWriMo prefers you to start on a new project for the month, most of us say that as long as you don’t include the words written prior to November, just go ahead and keep going with your current WIP. That said, since you pointed out that November doesn’t work for you because of where it falls in the school year, might I suggest trying one of the Camp NaNoWriMo session? These take place in April and July, and you can work on poetry, scripts, editing, noveling, whatever. You set your own goal, whether that is a word count or number of hours editing or lines written or pages completed. But yes, NaNoWriMo doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. However, I think it’s worth trying at least once.

  10. I love Nano because it gets me going, I need that pressure otherwise, I just procrastinate and build the story in my head and never get it on paper.
    Congratulations on being half way through your manuscript! That’s awesome!
    I nominated you for the Liebster Award. No obligation to participate of course, but it’s right here if you’d like to check it out! Liebster Award

  11. I am also very sporadic and believe it should be a marathon and not a sprint. I have never done NaNoWriMo and don’t know if I ever will. My own schedule seems fine for me. (50,000 words, congrats! My novel has like 15,000 right now)

  12. Hey, first and for most, I love your I messages. People don’t use those enough. I’m happy you do.
    What to say about me? I am a mom of two small kids, I teach, I write my own courses, run around all day, our son needs to go to school and sportclubs and my daughter,… is two, she’s a challenge on her own. All of that and more making the usual very busy life.

    I’m chaotic at best, but in writing I have learned how to plan basic things like my world and my characters, because in the end I just can’t write a whole novel without anything planned out. However my chars tend to run away with my story, making outlining a complete plot, boring.
    One day I write 3K of words and the next I barely get ten written.

    Why am I so totally in love with Nano? Well It get me to dare myself. It makes me take time for writing.
    It’s hard getting writing in every day, a whole year round. My life never runs as planned so,…. I claim November to be my own (in family life).
    Supported by fellow Wrimo’s I run and struggle and plot and twist and have loads of fun while writing. Something I don’t really get to do in daily life.
    Does that mean it’s finished? Nope puke drafts need time to rest before I start working at them again.
    And I have learned more about writing and plotting and publishing during 1 month of November, then I did by reading every article that passed me by. Why? Because it’s from experience. I get to ask opinions, and support others myself. And last but not least, I have made friends who share my passion.

    I enjoy it, but not all methods work for everyone. And though not giving up is realy a great feeling, I get that the 50K in one month is a serious hurdle. I failed my first attempt and there might be others to come. But every words is one I didn’t write before and I won’t get forward if I don’t take a step.

    I hope you find my reasoning, reasonable (sleepless night might have caused me to be,… incoherent.). And I wish you, although you might not join Nano, happy writing.

  13. uhhh everything you’ve mentioned here is exactly what scares me about this. I can write about 1,000 words in an hour, or I can’t. Sometimes the words pour out and sometimes I just need to force them out, or I write something that makes no sense and I have to go back and delete delete delete. I want to push myself to do this as a challenge but I’m afraid I’ll have no time, and eventually give up and be disappointed.