Thursday 29 October 2020

The approach of NaNoWriMo and why to write

Here it comes again. Worldwide lots of people talk about writing month. Some do a lot and feel good, some do a little and feel bad, and others have other outcomes. I've seen a few people wonder whether to do it, mainly due to the fear of feeling bad.

Me, I will be doing it, as an extension of the writing I'm already doing and will continue to be doing after. No special project. No special participation other than talking about word counts and some projects in places that NaNo that I'm already part of. Why?

Let's go to wondering whether to do NaNo, which for me, is just wondering whether to write. There's a lot said about it, sometimes in negative tones that affect people's perceptions. For me, it boils down to the simple question of "Is your life better or worse with writing in it?" Some people find it better because they enjoy writing. Some people find it better in the same way others might find their lives better for running long distances - they don't particularly enjoy the process but really enjoy having done the process. For others it is less about enjoyment of any part and more the need to do it, and feeling bad if they don't do it. This camp is the most likely to say things like "people who can live without writing should do so" and while that's pretty negative, it's their truth. Hell, it's a bit my truth. This is the camp I'm mostly in. 

Whatever camp people are in, it has to be one where it makes life better. There's zero reason to do it if it doesn't make life better. 

That doesn't necessarily help anyone on the sideline deciding to jump in. Help clarify the question maybe, but not answer it. Of course, I can't. I do however have a few other questions that I ask myself regularly:

"Am I worried that I'll have some bad days or lose enthusiasm and stop doing this and regret wasting my time?"

Every writer will have those moments. To a certain extent being a writer is defined by coming back when others stop. However! Coming back is easy. You've just got to shrug off the bad days and want to come back, and write when you do. It works, as can be seen from the excellent Melissa Caruso's twitter thread on this. Don't let fear of the bad days rule you. Also, who says we have to regret time spent on pastimes that aren't forever? 

"Do I really have anything to say? Any stories that are different enough to the rest to be worth writing?"

The great inconvenient truth about writing is you never really know until it's written and people are looking at it. Which also equals a big opportunity to find something worth saying through the process. You don't have to have everything at the start.

Well... okay. Two. But I think they cover most of it.

Look. If you can look at NaNo and say "I'll write and talk about it as long as it's fun, and if it stops being fun I'll just drop it with no dramas, and maybe I'll come back but no regrets if I don't", then I think you're all set to go. If that's not your mindset and you've got one that works, then top bombing.

For everyone still thinking about writing who's not sure they can be easy on themselves - maybe find other ways to do it. I know one person who'll be doing NaNo, but by spacing the days out so not all fall in the month but all fall when he's ready to write. Sounds clever to me. I also know another who might be joining in to do their thesis, which is where I am with my continuation. Starting something new wouldn't make my life better, not like finishing something would. 

There's short stories for people who aren't sure about novels, flash pieces for those unsure about short stories. People could set up a chain story with their friends. Ways to write seem ever proliferating. 

And if people think their life would be better with a bit of writing in them, then hopefully they'll find a way to do so.


  1. I think you've got the right perspective on NaNo here. I had lots of fun when I participated in high school. Here's to an enjoyable month of writing!

    1. I probably wouldn't be even doing this if I wasn't part of communities doing it! But I am, so time to enjoy it.