To NaNo or Not To NaNo… Part 1

Writing Recaps

It’s the time of the year when I’m usually getting ready for NaNoWriMo. For those who are new readers, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Participants commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I’ve been participating since 2004, but for the first time in fourteen years, I’m wondering if I should continue.

It’s been a struggle for me to process how my writing has shifted now that I have to balance so many publishing tasks. I wrote an entry back in July about giving up NaNoWriMo this year. Since then I’ve been working on book three, trying to find the ideal frame and voice for the characters. That’s four months to write a novel and it’s not conducive to NaNoWriMo when I have one month to write a novel.

I’ve experimented with ways to keep writing along with NaNoWriMo. I tried writing the first draft of my novels, for example, and I found it didn’t work. I was rushed and not developing the plot or characters well.  I’ve found that my writing suffers from writing to the word count instead of telling the story.

Over the next few weeks I have to decide what I want to do about NaNoWriMo.

Do I have an idea of what I want to write?

In fact, I do! I’m very excited to start working on the first draft of Northanger Park, the fourth book in the 21st Century Austen series. It’s going to be something I start working on in Disney because it’s part of the inspiration. The outline is nearly complete, I’m very invested in these characters, and I’ve been playing with the opening scenes. If anything is going to come together quickly, it might just be this book. It might mean I put aside the last few chapters of Woodhouse Hall, but that’s okay!

Could I write 50,000 words?

This isn’t my problem. My books are fast paces romances and typically get to or above 50,000 words. Since this goal isn’t my problem, I expect the problem would be in trying to write the best story instead of a fast one. I would shave off words by using contractions, I would stop using full names, and there would be less ramble expository content. There’s a good chance I could come up shy of 50,000 words by simply not writing to the word count.

Will I be able to focus on writing in November?

This is something that is encouraging about doing NaNoWriMo. I’ve been doing it so long and have so many friends doing it that people are doing it with me, encouraging me while I do it, or simply so used to it that they accept it as reality. In fact, November, more than any other month, is the ideal time for me to write because of this.  My real focus problem has been balancing promotional needs with writing needs. This is where I’ve been struggling to find some balance.

Could I win?

Here’s the thing… I don’t care anymore. I’ve reached this goal consistently for years. It has no thrill for me. It’s not that I want to give up on setting goals. It’s more that I need more challenging and meaningful goals.  This is where I really need to think about what I’m doing and if doing NaNoWriMo is worth my time. Yes, I would likely spend the month writing and would go to events as long as they’re productive. I don’t know what programs I could do moving foward to set new goals. I don’t know if I can be accountable without a program like NaNoWriMo.

In part 2, next week, I’ll let you know what I decide…

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