If you are in any way connected to the writing world, you know November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write thousands of words every day, so at the end of the month you have a new novel. This concept has grown immensely. There are nano teams, nano coaches, nano websites, and nano write-ins. If you follow writers’ blogs, Facebook pages, or twitter feeds, you’ve likely seen word counts posted. Many, many writers love this idea and are faithful to the commitment they make to it. I am not one of them.
Nano isn’t for me for a few reasons. First of all, I have more than enough pressure in my life without me seeking more. Secondly, it really doesn’t work well with the way I write. My writing sessions begin with me reviewing and revising what I wrote in the previous session. Sometimes this only takes me 20 minutes; other times it takes hours. Then I move on to write new material. If I had to produce 2,000 -3,000 new words every day, I would be too tempted to save time by skipping the first couple of writing hours used for polishing. At the end of the month, I might have my 70,000 – 90,000 words, but what a mess they would be. At the end of November, I wouldn’t have a novel; I would have a first draft of a novel that needed an overwhelming amount of revising. It’s true that even with my daily polishing routine, I still have to go through the novel as a whole a couple of times, but those tend to be more big picture revisions. Having to attack the 80,000 words on every front would just be too much for me.
The one thing that really does appeal to me about nano is the idea that it instills discipline in one’s writing habits. I write and edit all day for a living. There are many nights when sitting back down in front of the keyboard to work on a novel is about as appealing as having a lobotomy. If I thought this would help me overcome that, then I would sign on in a hot minute. Has anyone collected data on this? Are there statistics that show the percentage of people who complete their nano goals who continue with daily writing sessions in December? January? February?
If you have taken part in nano before, I would love to hear how it affected your work habits. Was a month enough to make a daily commitment to your writing the norm? How many months do you devote to revising your November first draft? How about the comradery of the event? Was it more about the inspiration you received from your fellow writers, than the discipline you adopted from the practice?