To Nano or Not to Nano…

If you’re an aspiring writing, you’ve most likely heard of NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month. Every November, thousands of wanna-be writers (this girl included on an occasion or two) park their backsides in booths and tables at coffee shop across America (and beyond!) and apply fingers to keyboard in an effort to tap out 50,000 words in a month.

It’s a daunting task. I’ve participated twice in NaNo and failed twice.

If I were to sit and think about why I failed, it really comes down to things:

  1. Daily word count
  2. Winning

I am an incredibly competitive person. I’m not very good at sports, but I am ruthless at board and card games. I’ve been known to doggedly play the same game over and over until I win… and then quit. (Hey–I said I was competitive, not stupid!). Winning, as ridiculous as this sounds, means something to me. Probably because I’m not incredibly athletic, never played sports growing up, and was nearly always the last person chosen for a gym class team.  The idea of winning at writing is VERY appealing to me–hello? (Wanna-be) Writer over here! However, NaNo has kinda become like the only game I’ve ever played and never won: Chess.

I am a terrible Chess player not for lack of trying–trust me, I try all. the. time!–but because I can never strategize correctly. When I plan out my moves in advance, carefully analyzing the board and all possible moves, my opponent inevitably finds the one available move I did not. When I play by the seat of my pants, I inevitably find my Queen sidelined and my King backed into a corner by a band of evil pawns.

Winning then becomes a chore rather than a fun goal. NaNo winning, the two times I participated, were kind of like that. I found myself either stymied by some minor detail that slipped my attention during all my pre-writing planning or backed into a corner and facing far too many narrative threads to bother untangling them.

Daily word count is no friend of mine either. I like to choose my words carefully. I frequently write, read, delete, and rinse and repeat. This idea that to “win” one has to write X amount of words a days is in some ways a bit too much pressure for me.  I inevitably throw my hands in the air and say “f**k it” when my word count falls behind.  The headlong  rush to the daily finish line just doesn’t suit my writing style.

So I’m on the fence: To NaNo or not to NaNo? I have roughly 20K written. NaNo, if I completed the challenge, would give me another 50K, leaving about 10-15K to write to complete the manuscript. (Whew! That’s a LOT of K!).

I don’t want to race, but I desperately want to finish.

What about it friends? Are you NaNo-ing

2 responses to “To Nano or Not to Nano…

  1. I’m not at a place to NaNo this year. The idea of it is somewhat appealing (mostly just to see if I could do it), but then I worry about what I’d be churning out. Would any of those 50k words I’d written in my haste to ‘win’ be worth a damn? Not sure if I’ll try in the future, but it won’t be this year, that’s for certain.

  2. That’s exactly my pickle, Kelley: quality over quantity. It’s a great opportunity to bang out some words, but are they quality words worth keeping or something that is relegated to the cutting room floor?

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