Let me say right off the bat that I have never and probably will never do NaNoWriMo. One reason is that I don’t like to force my writing, but another is that it’s too close to Christmas to put myself under additional strain (Christmas comes early around here. Because – reasons.)
But a lot of my friends do it.
From about mid-October onwards, they start posting about it, and as the end of the month approaches, the posts get more and more fraught. Who’s still going to do it? How much prep has anyone got done? Is there enough time to get organized for it? Am I the only one who thinks they cannot do this?
And then, one morning this week I saw a Tweet that said “I have just been struck by a case of ‘There is no way in hell I’m going to succeed at #NaNoWriMo’ anxiety.”
And that’s when I realized that my instincts about NaNoWriMo were not in any way wrong.
It was, I have to assume, formed from the best of intentions.
I believe people when they say that what its purpose is, is to get people writing – to get them to stop waiting for “the right time” or “inspiration” and just write.
Problematically, the creators neglected to consider actual human beings.
Because the moment you involve a stated goal, you make this a competition, and you make it NOT about writing, but about winning, and, naturally, then, about the possibility of failure.
If the goal is simply to get writing done, then how can anyone possibly fail at NaNoWriMo? Even if after an entire month, you end up with only a single paragraph – well, that’s more than you had on November 1st, isn’t it?
And even if you have 50,000 words written – is it more successful than the person who only got a paragraph? Their paragraph might conceivably be a thing of beauty, and your 50K might be complete trash – who’s really “winning” here?
If the single paragraph writer is you, don’t feel that you have not succeeded – because that shouldn’t be what writing (in any format or competition or other exercise) is about.
If you make that 50K mark – don’t gloat. You may only have succeeded at meeting an arbitrary word count. That isn’t necessarily actual “writing”.
Like I said: I don’t do this particular thing. But for those of you who do, stop stressing. Never mind what those other people are doing. Use this for what it should be: a way to get into the habit of writing, and ending the procrastination.