On Skipping #NaNo Without Guilt #amwriting

I love NaNoWriMo, don’t get me wrong. NaNo been berra berra good to me.

I’ve completed the NaNo challenge (write 50,000 words in 30 days) several times, ending up with the rough drafts of a series of books.

NaNo is invigorating and inspiring. All over the world, writers young and old, neophyte and experienced hit the ground running and write like the wind!

I’ve learned important lessons from NaNo, the most important of which is to write quickly. I’m a slow, deliberate writer by nature, a ditherer who obsesses over placing the right word, the right construction, the right punctuation, one letter after the other in order. It can take me a loooooong time to finish a project — if I don’t waffle the project to death altogether. NaNo has taught me that, if I get bogged down, the best thing to do is stop editing as I go and just write the damn thing. That isn’t my preferred method, but it’s a good tool to be able to use to bust a block, if that block happens to be the result of the method I’ve been using. The second most important lesson is that it’s okay to write a really crappy rough draft. Anything can be rewritten.

So why am I not doing NaNo this year?

After several years of doing NaNo, I’m not learning new lessons. I need to take a break, in hopes that I’ll come back to it out of the NaNo habit and learn some important new things. The power that is NaNo should not be taken for granted.

After several years of doing NaNo, I have a buttload of rough drafts that I haven’t had time to turn into finished-ish drafts. I need to do some of that hard work before I grant myself the intense pleasure of creating a new book.

So, if you’re doing NaNo, I wish you as much fun and as much personal success with it as I’ve had. You can have fun and personal success at it whether you “win” or not, you know. You’re a NaNo winner if you get any writing done at all. You’re a NaNo winner if you seriously consider doing any writing at all, as long as you follow that up with actual writing some time. 🙂 Go, you!

And, if you’re not doing NaNo, let it be for one or more good reasons. NaNo isn’t for everyone. It isn’t for everyone every year.

If you’re a writer, write, using whatever tool and resource is available to you. I love to read. I’ll be cheering you on.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character decides to forego a group activity in which they usually participate.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “On Skipping #NaNo Without Guilt #amwriting

  1. Holly Jahangiri

    November 2, 2015 at 8:47am

    I’m taking a different tack: I am gleefully CHEATING at NaNoWriMo this year. What I get out of it is a sense of shared creative energy – it’s a delightfully social activity for introverts. Write-ins always sound so lovely, but unless one’s happening in my back yard, by accident, I’m not really GOING to one. Maybe in spirit. But the point is, it’s a month to happily focus on writing (or in your case, editing) – doing to the work. Lesson learned? You can only REALLY cheat yourself (for instance, by writing “One, two, three…fifty-thousand.”) If you use it to meet a real writing goal, it’s not really cheating. I’m going to be writing short stories – another Story a Day, perhaps (well, without the goal of finishing a new one every day, but rather of writing 50K words worth of them). I have contests to enter. So! Short stories being more “my thing” than novels (another lesson learned, and at last accepted), that’s how I’m USING NaNo. And not feeling one iota of guilt. I’ve been doing this since 2001. I’m not stopping now. I’m just getting more creative and rebellious about it.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      November 2, 2015 at 10:17am

      Sure! Yes! Exactly! NaNo is a tool to help you, not a weapon to beat yourself up with, right? I’m looking SO forward to 50,000 words of Holly stories! 🙂

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  2. A.C. Flory

    November 2, 2015 at 5:30pm

    “I haven’t had time to turn into finished-ish drafts. I need to do some of that hard work before I grant myself the intense pleasure of creating a new book.”

    This says it all for me. I’ve only done 2 nanos, but one led to Vokhtah and the second led to Innerscape. I’m still trying to finish Innerscape so no playtime till I’m done [which could be ten years from now because I write the same way you do].

    So here’s to nano and the completion of things we’ve begun!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      November 2, 2015 at 6:33pm

      I’m looking forward to doing another NaNo, but I’m using it as a carrot to encourage myself to finish those edits! ~grin~

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  3. Jessica Nunemaker

    November 3, 2015 at 9:44am

    I sort of took the NaNo idea to get my book done in a month…but then I had so many return trips to make that it wasn’t actually DONE, done. And then images to go through. But still. Setting a specific word goal made it easier to just DO it.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      November 3, 2015 at 4:36pm

      I agree, Jessica. A specific word count can really light a fire. I need to get back to setting goals. Other than the one about consuming at least a set amount of chocolate daily.

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