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There so much… animosity towards nanowrimo and tbh as someone who 1. was primarily shaped as a writer by nano and 2. usually throws out 90% of their nano words, I want to say it’s completely possible to part peaceably from an event.

I know there’s social pressure involved when you’re a writing blog around November. That pressure is generally going to come in the form of people asking “are you doing nano”? And I want to clarify before that gets into full swing that the pressure involved is not intentional on their part. They didn’t mean to push you into doing something you know won’t be good for you. They’re just looking for people they can add to their buddy list and agonize with while they’re stretching their writing muscles. Please don’t take it personally. ((And please don’t pressure others ffs))

That said, the presence of that animosity kinda seems to imply that people have had some serious struggles with nano in the past. So let me say this:

1. There is no shame in a reduced wordcount

2. Giving up is an option you should seriously consider if you realize the strain is negatively impacting your life and your writing

3.  Nano is supposed to be motivating, uplifting, and an enriching social activity. If it’s not hitting any of those points and doesn’t have some added benefit not on that list, it’s not helping you. (A lot of people get really, REALLY down on themselves during nano. It’s… extremely unfortunate, actually)

4. Discovering your own limitations as a writer is a big part of this event, but you need to remember to watch for when it’s pushing you too far, and scale back when you hit that point. Making yourself hate your writing like I and so many others have does not help you.

Pushing yourself until you hate seeing November come up is not healthy, and you shouldn’t put yourself through that. But holding a grudge against a well-meaning event that excites and motivates plenty of other writers isn’t a good look, either.

Please, just do what’s best for you and let the rest be excited if they want to.

THIS.

I’ve never done a full nano myself. Just never been in a place where it’d be helpful or feasible to do it, either for writing-related reasons or life-related reasons.

I have done some half-nanos (in which I actually surpassed my goals!) and “participation goals” where I’d consider it a win just to write something, anything, every day for nano.

I made up my own goals and rules because it was fun for me to have a sense of participation with everyone else frantically working on their projects, even if I couldn’t participate at the “official” level for one reason or another. 

I won’t say there haven’t been times where I felt like a failure for never getting the Full Nano Experience (especially, ahem, in the company of certain people who could get their 50,000 words down 10 days into November), but y’know what? That’s just not me or my writing style. Maybe someday it will be, but not now.

In the meantime, I can have fun being a part of things at my own pace. Or cheering on and sympathizing with other writers from the sidelines in the years where I can’t or don’t want to participate.

Do what works for you. Challenge yourself from time to time, but be smart about what you choose to tackle and when. Don’t stress or hang your worth, as a writer or as a person, on other people’s goals. 

I used to push myself way too hard all the time. For NaNo, I would stay up late trying to catch up and then burn out early in the month and feel depressed about failing. It didn’t matter to me that most people who participate in NaNo don’t finish 50,000 words, I thought I should just be able to. After finding out I have ADHD, I’ve learned to let go of that kind of pressure (though it’s still frustrating), and I try to be kinder to myself in all areas of life. I want to finish NaNo this year, but it’s not worth losing sleep over. It’s just for fun.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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