Not doing NaNo because you think you can’t hit 50k? This post is for you.

There are plenty of reasons why someone shouldn’t participate in NaNoWriMo! They hate writing. They hate November. They hate books. (If you hate all three of these things, I’m probably scared of you.) But when I talk about NaNo with my writer friends, there’s one thing a lot of them always say:

“I’d love to, but I don’t think I’d be able to win this year because school/work/family/I’m not the type of person who can hit 50k in a month.”

To which I say NOOOOO in proper dramatic drop-to-my-knees-at-the-climax-of-the-movie fashion.

Let’s talk first about how awesome NaNo is. At this point I feel like most of us take it for granted, so I want to bring up the fact that there is a WHOLE MONTH which THOUSANDS of people devote to writing a book. It’s practically a holiday. Some of these people are people who don’t usually write, who say “screw it I’m writing a book because it’s NaNo.” Like, what? This is an event that gets people to try writing a BOOK. That’s crazy! And it works! It’s hugely popular!

Some agents are probably disillusioned by the whole thing due to all the queries flying in their faces come December, but hell, we’re not agents. We’re WRITERS. *fires T-shirt gun into the bleachers* It’s an event that celebrates us, and what we do, and the sense of writerly community increases 10x during the month of NaNo as all these writers – and this is the great thing, it’s not just for ~published~ writers, or ~agented~ writers, it’s for ALL writers and it’s an equalizer – do the writing thing at the same time. 

Anyway. I like NaNo. It’s the one month a year that brings tons of writers from different levels and backgrounds together, holding hands and singing round the Chrismas tree, Whoville style. (Or rather, singing round the coffee tree. Whatever works. Are there coffee trees?)

So here are my favorite (and in my opinion, the best) things about NaNo:

1. The sense of community – meeting people outside your usual writer circle. Or meeting writers in general if you don’t have a writer circle.

2. It’s fun! It’s the prom of writing. It makes me feel like writing is cool and hip and not something weirdos do in the basement. 

3. It’s a great motivator – it can be an excuse to start the novel you’ve been putting off. 

4. It can get you into the mode of writing daily or more often, establishing good work patterns.

So is there anything BAD about NaNo? (Other than the query deluge for agents.) I would argue, well, yeah.

1. Some people just can’t hit 50k in November. 

And that’s fine. Like I said, some of us writers have kids. We have classes. Some of us have day jobs – well, okay, almost all of us probably have day jobs. And some of us are just better and happier writers when we go at our own pace, and that pace might be 20k a month, not 50k.

But there’s a culture of “winning” around NaNo that can make it feel like you shouldn’t participate if you know you won’t be able to hit that 50k mark, or if you want to work on a novel you already have instead of starting a new one, or if you want to use it for revisions or a book of poetry. 

And that’s lame.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with people being happy at the fact that they won (you guys are amazing!) and people laughing good-naturedly about the fact that they got nowhere near 50k. But I would argue that the best things NaNo has to offer aren’t just about ending up with 50k words. And it bums me out that some writers would miss out on those things because the 50k goal doesn’t mesh with their personal lives. 

So, here is my plea to you: If you want to do NaNo, and the ONLY reason you’re holding back is because you think you won’t be able to hit 50k, go for it anyway! It’s okay if you don’t hit 50k! It doesn’t matter! NaNo is for writers, and YOU are a writer, and you deserve the fun whether you can write 300 words in a month, 50k, or 200k. 

Now here is a picture of a delicious grilled cheese sandwich as a thank you for reading my long post.






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8 Responses to Not doing NaNo because you think you can’t hit 50k? This post is for you.

  1. There’s always the NaNo Rebels forum for those making their own challenge for November! Also, your grilled cheese picture helped me decide what to make for lunch. Yum.

  2. cmbaker says:

    Reblogged this on Fumbling with Fiction and commented:
    Great post by my friend, Laura about Nano

  3. lauratims1 says:

    Thank you so much, Chandler! ❤

  4. This is really helpful thanks!

  5. James Buysen says:

    Great post.
    Its my first NaNo and I’m going to be herding up cattle and having band practice from the 1-3rd plus having a day job… I’m gonna start off behind the 8 ball a bit but its an adventure and a writer should never turn down an adventure!
    I know I probably won’t hit 50K but who cares? If I don’t hit it this year I don’t hit it. But if I don’t throw my pen in the ring I’ll never know how close I can get. Maybe this year I’ll only get 30K (I’d be really happy with that!) but it will still be that much more than I had before. I can always aim for 50K next year!
    Its going to be an interesting month that’s for sure… but if you don’t get involved than it will probably be just another November.

  6. kpulley says:

    You’ve made some good points in your post. This month isn’t -only- about reaching 50K. It’s the excitement of allotting yourself the time and committing yourself to the challenge of doing the best you can with the time you are given…and also being able to track your progress and connect with others on the same path as you. I like the idea of typing in my word count for the day and visually tracking the progress on the NaNoWriMo graph.

    I’m using it in hopes to finish the first draft I’ve been working on this year. Of course, I’ve written roughly 90K words in it already, but it’s nowhere near completion (and has a lot of superfluous scenes that need a good editing later), and I could see another 50K being what the draft needs for completion. My goal is to write more this month than any other month this year, but if I can reach 50K or better yet finish my first draft (however many words it takes–even if it’s less than 50K), I will be ecstatic. And I’m so excited right now, I can’t wait until Friday! 😀

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