NaNo…Not So Fast

I have now participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, for three years. In the last month, I’ve been feeling the spirit moving me towards participating in my fourth year, but last night when I sat down to day one of this sort of crazy experiment of writing 50,000 words in one month, I felt a bit panicky and rebellious. I’ve long been a firm believer in deadlines–I am one of those people who thrives under them. But last night, the idea of living the next month under the weight of a word count seemed less appealing.

Which is why I’m not officially participating in NaNoWriMo this month. I won’t sign up on their site and join the community, and if I don’t write 50,000 words this month, I’m not going to freak out–this might be a sign of growth for me as a slightly OCD person. I have the project, I’ve got my outline, and I have a hint of motivation that I think will deepen as the weather turns colder and I no longer desire to leave my home. But this year I’m not feeling the pressure to churn out a story in a sort of assembly line, quantity over quality fashion.

I love that NaNoWriMo forces you to get a lot out all at once so you have a good amount of material at the end of the month that you can rework and whittle down, but sometimes I worry that writing enough to meet an arbitrary word count means I risk sacrificing good writing for a lot of writing. I am still going back and revising In The Land of Girls, a manuscript I wrote during the spring NaNoWriMo in 2013. I’ll never know where I’d be in the editing process if I didn’t start with the raw material written rapid fire during NaNoWriMo, but something tells me now that a lot of what I’ve cut over my years long editing is the excessive material I wrote in order to make the NaNoWriMo word count.

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This is not a protest of NaNoWriMo–I like the spirit of this project, I like that it pushes me to commit and that it helps instill good, daily writing habits. I simply don’t know if I’m in the right place this time around for round four. My publishing house is launching a book next week, I’m wrapping up some edits for my story collection coming out next year, and I’m still hustling like crazy to find an agent for my YA noir series. These are a lot of balls to juggle while also attempting to power write a book in one month. For now it’s no thanks, NaNoWriMo, though I may change my tune come Thanksgiving when I suspect I will shut myself off from the world for four days and live a hermit’s life watching Netflix and writing.

Either way, I am embarking on a new writing project. It is one I have long wanted to write, and the stars have finally aligned for me to do so. For now, I’ll sum it up in four words: riot grrrl vampire YA. Stay tuned for a progress report later this month.

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