Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo

I Wear Blue Socks author page

Links to my NaNo author page

It’s October! Which means November and the stupendous (yet horrific) goal of 50,000 words are right around the corner! I’ve spoken to many people who are unsure about participating in NaNoWriMo. Some love it, some hate it, and others are terrified of it. I’m in the “love” category, but I’ll do my best to give you an unbiased list of the pros and cons of joining in with this activity. Scroll down a bit if you’d rather hear my opinion.

Pros:

  • You can meet other writers in your area.
  • You can make friends with people you never would have met otherwise.
  • You can get tons of advice on writing.
  • If you’re ever stuck on something, you have plenty of people to ask.
  • You will never be short of encouragement.
  • Writing with a deadline is a great kick-start if you lack ambition.
  • The focus on quantity not quality can clear away writer’s block.
  • You get tons of goodies!
  • Even though 50k words is your ultimate goal, people applaud you no matter how much (or little) you write.
  • You can learn a lot about yourself, your writing style, and the writing process.
  • You have the option of self-publishing your manuscript if you reach the 50k word goal.

Cons:

  • It’s another thing to put on that to-do list.
  • Writing 50k words a year isn’t going to make you a better writer.
  • The goal is to write a lot, not write well.
  • People might look at you funny (friend of mine is convinced NaNoWriMo is a cult of necromancers who worship microscopic robots).
  • It’s hard.
  • It takes time.
  • You might meet people you don’t like.

Here’s where I get opinionated:

In my younger years, I would write frequently but I only a few pages of any given story. I never finished any writing project unless it was an assignment for school. After high school, my manager in the library I worked at told me about NaNoWriMo. The following year, I decided I would go for it as a full-time student with a part-time job. That’s how God-Chosen came to be.

NaNoWriMo web badge

Links to more badges

NaNo worked out great for me. My first draft of God-Chosen was certainly nothing special (it still isn’t) but it was a completed novel, beginning to end. I never would have written it if it weren’t for NaNoWriMo. I wrote over 8,000 words the first day and finished the 50,000 by the 23rd of the month. I stopped there for Thanksgiving and exams, but I reached my goal. I did it. I wrote 50,000 words.

If it weren’t for NaNoWriMo, I wouldn’t have this blog.

You’ll have a different experience depending on your preferences and what kind of people are in your area. The people in my area are fantastic. We have write-ins at least twice a week during November and once a week outside of November. Even if you don’t go to all of them (I didn’t last year), everyone is still happy to see you. I’m also an introvert, so going out like that is a big thing for me.

NaNoWriMo isn’t only for novice writers. Randy Ingermanson talks about NaNoWriMo on his Advanced Fiction Writing blog. Simon Haynes, the mind behind yWriter and author of the Hal Spacejock series, participates in NaNo every year. Blair Hurley also used to participate, but she’s since said ‘no’ to NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMoNaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone. It works for me, but it might not for you. Regardless, I suggest you try it at least once. You don’t have to register and you don’t even have to write in November. Just pick a month you fancy and go into it with the goal of writing 50,000 words that month. You don’t have to participate in the community if you want to participate in the challenge. The reverse of that is also true.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Even if you haven’t, what are your opinions of it? If you have participated, what was your experience like? If you plan to participate this year, what are you expectations of it?

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on October 4, 2010, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. You bring up some interesting points. There were write-ins in my town last year, but I never attended any of them. I might try that this year, even though it would mean switching from keyboard to pen/paper whenever I do.

    Another of my goals this year is to really focus on quantity over quality. I’m terrible for editing while I work (I have on multiple occasions embellished a good copy to produce a ‘rough’ copy), which slows down my progress. All the editing can wait for December, eh?

    And as for goodies, I really hope we’re given the CreateSpace offer again. The prospect of a physical copy of my novel was really exciting.

    • It was exciting! I chickened out at the last minute, though. The entire CreateSpace offer wasn’t just “to have a proof of your book,” it was to self-publish it, which terrified me.

      I use a netbook to write on the go. Mine has a standard-sized keyboard so it’s easy to type on, and the battery lasts 6 hours. Only downside is the screen size, but I suppose the less I see of what I’ve written, the less I want to go back and edit it haha.

      March is actually NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month). I signed up for it, but ended up completely forgetting about it. Whoops!

      Maybe, like Thaumaturgist said, we can find a way to do an online write-in during November. Would be fun!

  2. Even though I have never taken part in it, I am just as enthusiastic as all those who are in it this year.
    You have some great points there.
    Funny, in contrary to shard, my goal is to stop editing and just move on. I have that annoying habit to rewrite everything I have written in hopeless attempts to perfect it, instead of finishing it once and then officially editing it. That is why I think NaNoWriMo would work well for me.
    Hopefully, next year…And best wishes for NaNoWriMo!

    • I know what you mean about erasing everything in an attempt to make it perfect. It feels great to finally finish something, even if it’s not perfect quality.

      Are you not joining NaNo this year?

      • No…:(
        I want to finish Thaumaturgy before I start a new novel…

        • So write 50,000 words of Thaumaturgy. No one says you have to start a new novel. This could be an excellent chance to get a lot done on it! Of course it’s completely up to you, but if you want to participate, don’t let what novel you’re working on stop you. Friend of mine isn’t even writing a novel, she’s writing short stories until she hits 50k words.

        • I thought there was a rule that you had to start a new novel. HAD to… Are you sure we can do that? If so then, I am so in!

        • No such rule, just write 50k words of fiction! Regardless of genre and form. Just write =)

        • I’m not quite clear on the rulings, but I support this idea regardless! The more the merrier, and whatnot.

  3. How did you set up that word count bar under your participant badge? I looked on the NaNo site, but I like the look of that one better than any of the ones I saw there (although the word war could be handy…).

    • It’s all HTML. I stole the idea from Drew (Writerly Words on my blogroll) who has similar progress bars for each of his WIPs. You can view the page source of my blog to find the HTML code for it, or you can wait until I post directions on how to make it.

      • I see. The HTML makes no sense to me, and in light of my laziness I suppose I’ll stick with the automagic official one. The biggest downside is that I seem to have to choose between fitting my badge and counter in one box and left-shifted, or having them both separate, and centered. Ah well, such is life.

        • Well yeah, the downside with my custom one is it isn’t linked to NaNoWriMo, so I have to manually change to word count and the like. I may very well switch to the official ones come November when they release the 2010 word count widgets.

          I’ll post “instructions” on how to make a widget like the one I have anyways, probably later this week. You shouldn’t have a problem centering both the badge and the counter. I’ll play the code and see what I can get from it.

        • The 2010 badges are up, I believe, but I never looked at the 2009 ones so the ones I saw may be outdated.

          From reading WordPress help, HTML code alignment isn’t supported, and my attempts to add align=”center” to the image codes in a text widget were also ineffective. I know more Java than HTML, so I have no idea.

        • The 2010 word count widgets aren’t up until Nov. 1, unfortunately.

          To center, try using div style=”text-align:center;” with on either side of course, and /div to close. I’m the opposite of you; I’m better with HTML than I am with Java, even though I’ve taken two courses in Java and none in HTML.

        • I had no luck with it. I think I’ll just leave it for now, and take another look at it later in the month or in November.

          And that makes sense; you’d take courses in the one you’re worse at, right?

        • I didn’t actually have a choice. I hate programming, but the courses were required. I’ve taken two courses in Java, one in Scheme, and one in ACL2. Yet I can’t write a program to save my life haha

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