NaNoWriMo: sorry, but I don’t drink coffee

Source: Words Count

50,000 words. 30 days.

That’s 1,666 words per day. Is it any surprise it has a 666 in it?!

It’s that time of year again. November is NaNoWriMo month and there’s posts abounding with tips on how to make the goal of 50,000 words.

This blog post isn’t one of them.

Is NaNoWriMo the right goal for you?

First of all, let me just say I truly appreciate the concept of NaNoWriMo. The majority of writers are more productive when working towards a goal. It keeps us focused and spurs us on despite distractions like social media, bad television and those persistent friends or family members who stick with us and are still hopeful enough to suggest dinner or a coffee.

I get it. I really do. There’s been some fantastic success stories borne out of NaNo.Β I’m also currently six chapters into a new novel so it would be perfect timing…


After much considered thought, I’ve decided NaNoWriMo is not the right goal for me (this year at least). Do any of the reasons below resonate with you? (I’m not looking for reassurance. OK. maybe a little bit).

  • Child negligence. Ahem, I mean quality time with my son.Β Sob, sob. I know, I know, many writers who do NaNoWriMo face the same challenges or have to find the time around full-time work. But here’s the clincher. In a few short months, he starts school and I don’t want to spend one of those months ignoring him. Heart strings, people, heart strings.
  • Obsessive Committed personality.Β Let it be known I love a good deadline. I thrive on them. In the absence of one I flounder around uselessly in a state of nervous anxiousness and achieve far less than I would if under a deadline. This is why 50,000 words for someone like me is possibly not a good thing. Alright, for my writing it may well be, but for my general well being and that of my family, probably not.
  • Writing style. When trying to make the decision whether or not to commit to NaNo, another writer offered me some sage advice, “If you do it, leave your internal editor behind.” I think she’s right. In order to meet the 50k, there’s no time to pause, stop for editing or deep reflection, you just have to write. And that’s when I knew. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. You see, I edit as I go. Not grammar so much (I leave that to my editor!) but in general terms, I finesse chapter by chapter so that once I’ve completed a book, rarely do I need to go back and make major changes. Sure, there’s always at least one problem scene, a host of consistency issues and many rounds of edits, but the story is there. I’m not sure I’m ready (or brave enough) to sacrifice everything else for word count.
  • Late nights. For those who know me, this point seems counter-intuitive. I’m a night owl and I can easily stay up well past midnight working on my writing. The thing is, I know it’s not particularly healthy (when I have a young child at least, how I miss my university days!) If I do it for too long, I experience burnout. The last thing I need is a month of late nights to cement my already questionable habits when what I should be doing is creating more long-term, balanced and achievable writing routine.

Do-it-yourself NaNoWriMo anyone?

So those are the reasons I’ll be bowing out of the 50,000 word challenge this year. Who knows? Maybe next year things will be different and I’ll have the physical and emotional freedom I need to commit to the goal.

In the meantime, another friend suggested I create my own quasi-NaNo writing goal and just do it for myself. I like this idea. 30,000 words total, or 1,000 words a day, seems a lot more achievable and conducive to developing healthy writing habits. Maybe we need to form a splinter group of writers who relish a deadline but are more conservative in their goals. NaNoWriMo Lite, perhaps?

How about you? Are you putting your life on hold for a month and committing to the 50k? Or, like me, do you have your reasons for respectfully bowing out?

Good luck to all who are up to the challenge!

6 Replies to “NaNoWriMo: sorry, but I don’t drink coffee”

  1. I’m doing it. Luckily I have no children to neglect and I’m usually up late too. For me, I love the social side of it. I don’t often get to talk to other writers. (Also I’m pretty sure it’s 1667 words. Sorry!)

      1. You could always have a go at Camp NaNoWriMo. You choose your own word count goal as long as it’s a minimum of 10,000.

  2. Good choice for this year. Time with your child is precious & something you can never replace! Also, will give you a good opportunity to start writing your next book next year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: