It’s tempting, truly. The idea that, for one whole month you (too) can focus on your writing and complete an entire first draft. There’s a certain common sense to it that makes you think I can do that–I can set aside every other thing in my life for a mere thirty days and give the words their life! I mean, I want to. I want to do that every day, TBH. Isn’t that the dream? So NaNoWriMo (and it’s devilish offshoots, like Camp NaNo) are basically telling you that you (too) can live your dream for a month. And you’ll love it so much you’ll never go back to your old normal.

This is basically bullshit, kids. I mean, November? Where, at least in America, one of the biggest holidays on the calendar immediately threatens your NaNo plan. The lead-in to Christmas, the Most Commercial of All Holidays? No bueno. Even if that were the ONLY issue, it’s usually enough for me to pump the brakes. Then there’s other things, like jobs and kid’s school and sports and home ownership and oil changes that get in the way on a “normal” basis.

And, maybe it’s just me, but can’t you see the guilt coming for you, like a bull charging down Main Street of a dusty western town? I can, and I ain’t signing up for that. It’s a catch-22. If I do it and fail, I feel guilty but if I don’t even try? In some neighborhoods, that’s even worse. I’m not down for a guilt-fest in any month, nor am I down for celebrating less than I should accomplish just because someone christened it NaNo month. Even if I don’t meet my goal, I get a gold star just for playing.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from listening to the pros, it’s that motivation is crap. Sure, you can get hyped up and maybe parlay that into an entire month of production. But discipline, real discipline and motivation are internal. You do or do not. And, because I’ve never been much for following a herd, I’m going to skip NaNo (and things like it) for oh, say, the rest of my life and simply focus on disciplining myself to meet my goals year round.

After all, if you can write a book in a month, shouldn’t you be able to write twelve of them in a year? Yeah, I think I’ll just do me.

Categories: LifeWriting


Anne · April 25, 2018 at 10:28 am

I thought that too, until I read Chris Fox’s book “5,000 Words Per Hour”. This book helped me realize I could spend 1 hour a day writing. Since I was a secretary in my past life, I do type fast (not 5,000- words per hour), but by spending 1 hour a day, I was writing between 1300 and 1800 words per day. I had an outline to keep me focused and on track, and I completed a book in November. This I never thought possible, and until I read his book, I had Zero interest in NaNoWriMo, because I don’t like to follow the crowd either, lol. I have since, completed a second book and am in the middle of my third, since November. Now I’m in the editing and marketing stages, so writing is a back seat. But, with the write mindset and habits, it can be done without it ruling your life.

    M.K. Chester · April 25, 2018 at 11:09 am

    I may have to take a look at that book, Anne, thanks for the recommendation. Maybe it’s not the process I dislike, or the idea even, but something else. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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