NaNoWriMo And Why I’m Scared to Death Of It

November, National Novel Writing Month, 50,000 words, writing — blah, blah, blah.

That time of year is (just about) upon us, and many of us will either be working our day jobs and returning home to meet our daily word count goal OR spend a week in front of our computers, typing anything that comes to mind (for the novel, not social media unless warranted at the moment) while not showering and not leaving our spots unless to eat or use the bathroom. Even then, chances are we’re carrying some kind of notepad/book with pen or pencil to jot down any new ideas that come at a moment’s notice.

A fellow (and awesome) WP blogger I follow mentioned their indifference to NaNoWriMo, how the event starves WordPress of its creative people for a month, taking away what could be a flurry of imaginative creativity and replacing it with obsessive word count updates and rants/raves of how NaNo is treating them. Although I’m admittedly guilty of doing such things, I share this sentiment.

And there’s something else to admit to: NaNoWriMo scares the absolute SHIT out of me.

I’ve participated in this event since 2009, along with the now defunct Script Frenzy (April) and Camp NaNoWriMo, which occurs during the first half of every year. I’ve won in 2011 and 2012, with the support of physical write-ins and the incentive of special offers upon hitting the 50,000+-word mark.

I haven’t, however, made an effort to rework and publish those “winning” novels, the special offers having gone to waste. I’ve also attempted to write novels outside of NaNoWriMo, but without that incentive, I lost faith in what I wrote and quit early.

Why is this so scary for me?

  • Pressure of being on a deadline
  • Writing with abandon, without interruption by one’s inner editor
  • Comparing one’s work with that of others who’ve accomplished what one’s trying to achieve
  • Not having support
  • Intimidating word count updates
  • Staring at the haunting word count goal chart when one has missed one, two, five days that could have gone into writing/dumping filler crap into a story you no longer have faith in

I also fear I’ll do as I’ve done during Camp NaNo: give up before finishing. Wasted time. Letting down the work.

I’m used to working on my own terns, with fan fiction, original fiction, my blogs, screenplays, and what not. That’s fun, as it should be. But when it comes to deadlines, and I don’t start a project right away and plan, I lose faith and don’t see the point in doing it at all. And I have yet to hear stories of people writing 50,000+-word novels in one day. If there’s at least one or two accounts of this happening, either they were bored or dedicated to the story they wanted to tell.

I debated on whether I wanted to participate this year or take a break. And if I do, whether to re-write last year’s novel or start fresh with a new story.

Either way, I won’t know unless I give it a shot, unless I take a leap of faith.

In between, I want to write stories on the side. It’d be nice to, on occasion, step away from novel-writing, do something different.

I don’t like the idea The Office of Letters and Light has about participants being so super dedicated to one story and one goal. We have lives outside of writing as well, and may want to go outside; drink tea; eat real, hearty food instead of the closest candy bar; take long, hot showers/baths.

Participants have obligations: jobs to go to, bills to pay, families to take care of. Those of us who don’t have those obligations have other things we like to do:

  • that book we’ve been waiting to get our hands on at the local library/book store
  • browsing social media
  • cleaning/laundry
  • writing articles/blog posts about things we’re passionate about
  • going to see a movie
  • dinner with friends
  • binge watching our favorite show(s) on Netflix or Hulu

Maybe that’s what I’m actually afraid of: the idea of having to give up my life to write about someone else’s. Simply to reach a goal that’s attainable, accessible to anyone and everyone. Maybe I need to throw that worry away and WRITE out of enjoyment. If I lose faith in what I’m writing, I can write something else, right?

All while living my life (and taking showers) in between.


2 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo And Why I’m Scared to Death Of It

  1. While I am trying NaNoWriMo for the first time, I love this post. It’s a good reminder how something that is seems like a great goal can spiral out of control, consume your life, and leave you with nothing to show for it. I’ll make sure to check that in my personal NaNo journey. And don’t worry, I’ll definitely be showering every day this month. 🙂


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