Why You Should Skip Nanowrimo

Why waste your time and energy?

One month, one story, 50,000 words.

The thing is, on December first you’re not magically a better writer, you’re a writer who just wrote 50,000 words. That’s it.

Writing faster does not mean writing better, in fact I would argue the opposite. You spend a month so focused on a numbered goal that you’re just trying to get the sentences out, not make them the best they can be.

But revision comes after, right? Well, you could have wrote at a normal pace and edited as you went, crafting each sentence, each paragraph with love for the language. You have to revise so much afterward that it’s a waste of time to get the 50,000 out just to only keep 1,000 of them. And that’s only a maybe.

With nanowrimo you’re not paying attention – with writing you need to pay attention. You need to know what each sentence conveys.

The alternative: Focus on one part of writing you really want to be better at. For me, that’s dialogue. Instead of blindly crafting a novel, take the month to work on one aspect of writing. Dialogue, character, scene. Whatever.

Like I said before, doing nanowrimo doesn’t make you a better writer. It more than likely stunts your growth as a writer, because once you have those 50,000 words down, it’s hard to go through them with a truly critical eye. Because you finally finished it. Taking your time, practicing one thing at a time will strengthen your writing, which should be every writers goal.

If you’re doing the challenge just because you believe it’ll get you writing, then I’d ask, what are you going to do when it’s over?

So skip nanowrimo, because it’s not for the writer who wants to grow in skill, it’s for the writer who just wants to say they wrote 50,000 words in a month.

19 thoughts on “Why You Should Skip Nanowrimo

  1. I respectfully disagree. For you, those 50k may not be necessary, but for a lot of people, they do not have anything finished yet. How can you know what you need to work on, if you haven’t written a finished manuscript and can actually see where you’re going wrong? NaNoWriMo gives some people the ability to finish their first story and finally see that they can write. You need to know you can write something before you can figure out how you can write something good.

    I also disagree with the claim that the speed you need for NaNo implies 98% of what you write is crap. I believe writers have the self respect to at least write words pertaining to their story, and any words building story are not lost words. Even if you rewrite them 30 times after they’ve been written. That’s the essence of editing. Aren’t you going to edit all your dialogues? You seem like a self respecting writer, so I am assuming you’re not going to write a dialogue and say it’s finished after the first go. NaNo is build on the same principle, except that’s about the full novel, not only dialogues.

    The last thing you said, that once you’ve written 50k, you’re not going to go through them with a critical eye, might be true for some people. I also get annoyed at people doing that, and I know quite a few people who think their first draft is the bomb. Those people have no eyes for reality and don’t reflect well on the rest of NaNo’ers. For every first drafter there is, there are three people who use November to finish their story and then spend the rest of the year editting it. Some people use NaNo as a kick to their butt, and after November they start writing more books.

    I’m sorry if this comment sound confrontational or anything, I don’t mean to make you feel bad. I just disagree, and wish to open a dialogue by explaining my POV. Your article was well written, so this is definitively not a reflection on your ability, only on your opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t mind that you disagree! You make valid points. I tend to see writing differently – of course I believe in editing after finishing something and not just during, but my point was that nano tends to waste more time.

      You bring up that most people need to know they can write which is why they do nano, but as a young writer myself I know that I have many years of hard work to make my craft better. Writing isn’t about just writing a story, it’s about loving language and using the best language possible to craft a story. You say how can you see where you’re going wrong unless you finish a manuscript, but I’d say it’s harder to judge your own work anyway. This is was workshops are so important, but if a writer can’t go to one then I’d say reading the best novels (as in tried over the decades- Jane Austen, James Joyce, Raymond Carver, etc) not just new novels, as well a reading books on writing. With this you see how they made it work and why.
      So I disagree with the notion you have to finish a novel to see where you mess up because it doesn’t add up – to me.
      As for gaining confidence, the writer must find it in themselves through working hard on their craft. I’ve been writing for years, was a writing major in college and I still get those thoughts of ‘I’m never going to be good enough,’ but when I work hard I feel like I’m accomplishing more than just writing something down, I’m learning to write well. But like I said, this is a long road and good writer’s will say the same.
      I’ve read a lot. I use to be really into stories from wattpad as a teenager, but I realised as I got older they hindered my reading ability for really well written novels, because I just wanted the story not the beauty of the language and what language could do. I’m personally biased, but I don’t think everyone should be.

      Thank you for your feedback, and I hope I don’t come off as snobby or anything! I appreciate everything you brought up 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wholly agree! But let’s not forget the stress factor, too. For new writers, failure to complete Nano won’t just be a failure to win a competition, or even finish the ‘race’ but it can be a personal failure also. This snowballs into them thinking they’re not good enough because they couldn’t hack out 50,000 words in a month. Hence, they could stop writing altogether. Nano’s damaging on many levels, especially for the newcomer, who forgets about drafting, proofreading, line editing because none are needed at Nano. They walk away thinking they’re not needed at all, and if you watch book sales at the end of Nano’s month you’ll see a plethora of ‘Nano Winners,’ badly edited flooding the shelves.
    Rant over. Need chocolate 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You gave me a lot to think about! Last year I managed 25,000 words writing about theology and you’re so right. All I did was FINISH my goal of half. I have not once even looked at those words since. If it’s okay with you, I’m going to bring this idea to my writers group today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. I have other things to do. With that said, it might be helpful in one respect: to get you in the habit of writing (although I can’t imagine why I’d ever need to write 50,000 words in a month). So there’s the idea of pursuing creativity as a habit, while for others, it might be just for fun. To each their own, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Every year I hem and haw about participating in NaNoWriMo. I spend the month of October wondering if I should write, or maybe I shouldn’t bother. If I did write, what would I write about? This goes on, back and forth, for 31 days. Then, on November 1st, I decide, “Yes, I’m going for it!” I get a half-assed idea and I start writing away.

    Then, about a week in, after working 9 hours a day, Monday through Friday, running errands all day Saturday because I don’t have time to do them otherwise, and a Sunday that’s mostly taken up with a personal responsibility, I realize that there’s no way I can write 50,000 words in a month.

    I go through this self-inflicted trauma because I love it. It’s like a holiday to me. More, it gives me an incentive to stop thinking about writing and actually do it. I know I’m not a writer. I know that I will never be a writer. But NaNoWriMo gives me a month to pretend that I am.

    There was one year when I did finish it, though. I went to write-ins, I went to the parties, and I told people not to bother me because I was writing my November Novel. Period. And it was a really great time and I attribute that to me going to the various events.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. For years I belonged to a weekly writer’s workshop and some of the writers there would do NaNoWriMo. But I never saw anyone who was “serious” who did. There’s just too much to writing a good novel to do it in only 30 days. And while I often say “anything worth doing is worth doing badly,” writing a genre designed for publication is does not fall into the category. Maybe writing postcards does, but that’s a different story.

    Liked by 2 people

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