Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaNo Is Over For Me

I finished my NaNo novel last night. 50,630 words about an eleven year old precocious girl who creates more mischief than even she ever dreamed of! But it isn't a story I'm really happy about, in its present form. I think once I go back and start the editing and revision process, it will come together better and I will be more satisfied. The last 5 or 6 days of the story were real work. I felt like I was batting my head against a stone wall, and was just writing to get those 50,000 words in, so I could say I was a winner. That's not how I want to write.

I've said I won't do it again. At the moment, I'm definitely not planning on doing it again. I'm wondering if I have the wrong idea about this whole NaNo thing? I know that the initial idea is to get people off their duff, and get them to writing. I know that you're supposed to use the 30 days and the 50,000 words to at least get the bare bones, the skeleton of the story down, and that supposedly, it is something you wouldn't have done if it hadn't been for NaNo.

Is that true? That's not a rhetorical it true? Is it true, that IF we are writers, we actually need something like the NaNo challenge to get us up off our respective duffs and writing? I'm sorry, but I don't believe that. If a person is a writer...really, truly committed to writing with the thought and hope of publishing...then why do we need something like this to get us motivated?

It's true that for me, I had this idea about Lily Leticia rolling around in my mind for over a year. It's true that so far, I had not written one word about her. ( Other than her name, that is.) But...I've been busy with finishing my ICL course and my novel. Then busy with final editings and getting the novel off to a publisher. But once that was done, I would have started on her story. Instead, I chose to wait until now, and do it for the NaNo challenge.

To me, it's a little like climbing Mt. Everest...a lifetime accomplishment that very few people in the world ever do. But once you've done it, why do it again, when there are so many other formidable mountains in the world to conquer? Once you have accomplished the challenge of NaNo, why do it again? Do you have to wait another year to commit yourself to writing again? Aren't there enough challenges in life and in writing to arouse your creative spirit and to dislodge those ideas hidden in the nooks and crannies of your brain?

If we, as writers, are determined to perfect our craft so that we will be proud of our stories and articles and novels...proud enough to made the decision to mail them off to publishers, and spend the agonizing time it takes to get a response...then why do we need to have a gauntlet thrown down in front of us to go ahead and write?

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not putting down NaNo, the people who created it or the people who participate. I'm just wondering if it is necessary. To do something different for a change? Okay, I'll buy that. To see if I can really, honestly write? Uh uh, don't think so. Thirty days to write 50,000 or more words means to put down anything, anywhere, even if the plot goes off in ten different directions, you've got twenty characters who don't, can't or won't interact, and you have no idea how what you're writing is going to be resolved. I can't find the learning curve in this. I don't see how this is going to help me be a better writer. A faster writer, oh yeah. A better one? Oh, no.

But...this is just me. And I'm sure that the writers who participate in NaNo year after year will fervently disagree with me on all counts. And that's okay, too !

For me, I think this one time is enough. I proved I can do it. I met the challenge head on, and won. Am I proud of the story I wrote? No. Will I be proud after all the changes, editing, revisions, eliminations and modifications? Maybe. I hope so. But you know what? I can easily envision several more months of work on it than I would have had, had I written it the way I normally do. So was it worth it? That remains to be seen.

BUT ! My husband bought me a dozen beautiful red roses yesterday just for finishing. Now...THAT was worth it !!!


  1. Whoo-Hooo for the roses! And Whoo-Hooo for being a winner in NaNO! Great job, Mikki. And great response to the program that is the NaNoWriMo challenge. I am soooo proud of you.

    Now, with your permission, I'd like to respond to some of your comments. I think that a lot of us really NEED that kind of a challenge to make us believe in ourselves.

    I participated in NaNo last year and meant to do so again this year. However, migraines being their own kind of challenge, I wrote several thousand words and quit. I am thrilled by the work that I did. Not so much the quality as the leap of faith. Last year, I managed to work up forty-some thousand words.

    Before NaNo, I struggled along at a somewhat steady pace with my writing. After NaNo, it was as if someone had started the ignition in a sports car. I suddenly believed I could succeed.

    Just a small take on why to participate in NaNo. I do think its a great program. Oh, and because I believe in myself, I did enter and fulfill the requirements for doing PiBoIdMo in November. I just think that NaNo is awesome for building confidence.

    My words are in no way intended to sound combative. Its just my personal opinion and appreciation for what NaNo has done for me.

    Thanks, Mikki, for all your great posts. I enjoy them and learn so much from them.
    ~ Yaya
    Yaya's Home

  2. Mikki, what an interesting post! I agree that NaNoWriMo isn't necessary for some writers, for those who already have a committed writing habit that's working for them. But for the ADD likes of me it's a way to focus, hard, for one month, and learn that it's not that hard to write 1,666 words per day, every day. And, in fact, that's what professional writers do.

    It's also a limited time of madness for our friends and families. They can cut us some slack for one month a year, knowing that for the rest of the year we put them first.

    So there are many different reasons for doing NaNoWriMo, and for some people those reasons have repeated relevance, from one year to the next. But if you have figured out a way to get the writing done without it, I take my hat off to you and say THAT is true success. :)

  3. I love Nano! I won in both '08 and '09, and I plan to do it again next year. I like it for two reasons. One, my whole family participates - all four kids write their own novels and we have a big celebration at the end of the month. It's quickly becoming a tradition, and we all enjoy it. As a teacher, I am a huge fan of the Young Writers Program! Second, I tend to use Nano for those ideas I can't quite figure out how to make work. There's something about the magic of the deadline that helps me shut down all my insecurities and just do it. Then in December I have a way foreward for the rewrite.