NaNoWriMo Update: Why I Stopped After a Week

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, know that I occasionally dabble in participating in NaNoWriMo. It’s a yearly event in which all writers out there are challenged to write at least 50K within the span of the month November. It’s a lot of fun, but also very stressful at times. My first year was actually the only year I traditionally “won” NaNoWriMo by completing my RomCom Break Up Buddy. After that I tried to work on Dreamer, Arcadia and now currently the #witchyWIP, but let’s get to that in a bit.

First off, I want to say that I in no way want to discourage anyone from participating in NaNoWriMo. I have made some great friends through it, been to cool meet ups and actually FINISHED writing a book. Those are all things I doubt I would have been able to achieve without the platform that NaNo offers. However, this year I also realised why it doesn’t work for me on the long run anymore and I’d like to go into detail about that a little in this post.

I want to talk to you a bit about process. Every book is different. Even authors with a certain writing routine sometimes face stories that just have different requirements. Sometimes people are pantsers, sometimes planners and sometimes a mix of the two. I usually prefer to just completely take my story as it comes, but again, this doesn’t work for all projects. From experience, however, I know that I cannot sit there and plan out a story, neither in detail nor in a rough outline. My mind wanders and I get terribly bored when I actually write the scenes because I know what is going to happen. When I write, I often feel like a reader, also experiencing and discovering the whole world for the first time with every new word. I don’t know if others feel the same, but the more I know in advance what I am supposed to write, the less fun and the more difficult it is for me to actually transfer it to the page.

So, what does that mean? I am a go-with-the-flow kind of person, which should be perfect for anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, but here is where life throws me a curve-ball: NaNoWriMo is on a tight schedule. Having a certain word goal every day, getting badges and that sweet satisfaction from reaching certain milestones is something I find terribly motivating. I am also a competitive person at heart (at least when the only person I am competing against is myself), so I REALLY want to reach those goals – at whatever price. And all too often that price is a suffering quality of my writing.

NaNo is not meant for creating a perfect first draft. It’s quite the opposite! It’s supposed to help you break free of the chains of an overthinking mind and to just get. things. done. It’s a tool to get a story on paper, not to send it to publishers right after, but rather to have a framework for the amazing tale you can shape out of it once you get to editing. Now, editing is the bane of my existence. I hate it with all my heart, probably for similar reasons I don’t like outlining.

All of the things I have mentioned above lead to a certain realisation. I am not claiming my #witchyWIP is perfect! I know it is not, but the first chapters that I wrote before NaNo started were of a certain quality. I was aware that it needed tidying up, but I didn’t despise the existence of entire chapters. With me getting into a competitive NaNo mindset and really wanting to hit those word count marks, I just wrote and wrote but overall, I wasn’t really happy with the content I put out there (you have to know that I always share my work with a couple people. Let me know if you want to read a writing insights post on sharing your unfinished work!) So, I made the decision to not participate in NaNo for this project anymore. For me personally, there was no joy in getting chapters done if I wasn’t ultimately happy with what they contained. There was simply no point for me and I don’t regret my choice.

So, to all the brave NaNo writers who are still going – I wish you the best of luck! I hope you have a great time during the event, but I am out.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How are things going for you? Have you participated before or do you want to in the future? Let’s chat!

45 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Update: Why I Stopped After a Week

    • I completely get it! I am not going to stop writing altogether either, but I just need to do things on my own time rather than smash words on a page just to have them there, even if they don’t make sense, you know?
      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My comment may not make sense as you go along but hopefully by the end I’ve made what I’m trying to say clear enough. πŸ˜†

    This year is the first out of many in which I slightly prepared for NaNo and felt enthusiastic about the story idea I created. Even in just eight days I’m noticing habits and patterns and comfort zones of my writer self, and I’ve had just as much fun ironing out and discovering those as I have actually developing my story. I say this – and I’m gingerly speculating here – because it sounds like this year, the challenge of NaNo has sort of reinforced what you know about yourself as a person and writer, and in this case this means stepping away from it because it doesn’t bring you joy in any step of the process. I’m comparing our experiences because I think doing so is a great example of the real power of this challenge, which is offering writers of all kinds the opportunity to reach success by writing 50,000 words and/or develop and discover themselves (even if that means stepping away from the word count).

    I love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It totally makes sense and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the topic! I definitely agree that NaNo shows you a different side of yourself and it can even be different again the following year and the one after that. As I mentioned in the post, I also believe it has a lot to do with each project having different requirements as well.

      I am so glad you liked the post! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for writing this post, I think it’s really important to talk about how NaNo doesn’t have to work for everyone or every project β€πŸ’• I adore NaNo as it works so well for me, but it’s definitely not the only way to get writing and I think it’s important that we talk about that too, as the pressure of the word counts and the whole concept certainly doesn’t always work!

    I hope to finally get to reading more of your witchy WIP when I find the time though! πŸ’—

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I am glad you like the post ❀ I feel like everyone is always so upbeat and motivating, which is great!!! but at the same time there are those moments/projects that just require a different approach and that can mean stepping away rather than continuing on a road that doesn't lead anywhere.

      Take as much time as you need! I'll be waiting for your input whenever you are ready.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Last year I won, but this year I’m going at it casually. On the one hand, the atmosphere of so many people writing is enticing and I don’t want to miss out. But on the other, my newest manuscript just isn’t ready for that kind of quick drafting. So I’m going at my normal writing pace and will have to call that good this time around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also tried to approach this as more of a “I am going to write every day during November but not necessarily to hit a certain word count” but in the end, I found myself getting to competitive still and I just needed to take a real step back. I will continue writing, but more on my own time again.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not even participating this year. I just finished a new novel, one that I intended to be three times shorter than it is. And I finished it on October 30th! Plus with rewriting most of Rose, I’m just not in the mood to get into another one. I’m just going to work on shorter stuff and see where that takes me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel this so hard!!!!! This is also what I’m struggling with right now. I participate in nano practically every year with varied results and I love it but I’m realizing it’s not right for this project I’m working on. I decided I’m still going to write it this month but I’m not going to stress myself out over reaching a certain word count. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Okay so first of all and before I forget “read a writing insights post on sharing your unfinished work” > YES PLEASE. That would be really interesting to read and, if you’re lazy to write a full blog post about it, you can write me an essay in a message or something πŸ˜‚ As you know, I’ve been working on my current story for so many years now and I’m thinking that after these edits I might try to share it with a couple of people (you obviously are included in them, if you’d like to obviously no pressure at all, but I’d love to include you. ANYWAY). SO all of this to say, it would be really interesting to read that πŸ™‚
    So second of all, on your actual post πŸ˜‚ I understand your point and I feel like some novels aren’t necessarily meant for NaNo, either. I’m not that competitive, even if, well… to be honest it’s bothering me that currently I am not at the NaNo word count, even if I’m not writing but editing and rewriting, but well πŸ˜‚. It feels kind of pressurizing a little bit to have to write so many words and sometimes it feels a bit forced. It’s not for every story or for everyone – I know personally it helps me in getting back into a writing routine, but I know if I went to work this month I wouldn’t participate either, because, time πŸ˜‚
    I feel like I’m rambling on and on, I should probably stop haha. Best of luck for your story, I’ll always be looking forward to reading more of it!! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha duly noted! I think I am actually going to make this a real blog post though. I haven’t been inspired for many topics, but this one makes sense as it’s really something I know a lot about.
      Thanks so much for your comment as a whole though! I just really don’t want to force the #witchyWIP and I feel like that’s exactly what I am doing right now. I’ll keep you updated about future chapters.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally relate to this post, especially about the point you made about how your work isn’t up to your standards because of NaNo. I’ve noticed the exact same thing. The quality of my writing has definitely decreased because I am just trying to force words onto the page, rather than spending time forming beautiful sentences.

    I don’t want to stop just yet, because I am also super competitive and I feel as though I will let myself down if I quit. But, my goal is no longer to hit 50k. I just want to write every single day of November, and get at least 500 words written each day. This way I’m still writing but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t have as much time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried doing the thing with just writing every single day (my NaNo word count is only at 2590 words) but it was still too much pressure on delivering new chapters. I think I am going to do better without participating this year, but we will see πŸ˜€ NaNo really was the best way to get things done. I never quite manage to get to the end of my stories without it.

      I wish you the best of luck with your project! I am sure it’s going to turn out great as long as you follow your gut feeling.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m taking part in NaNo this year but I completely get this post because in some ways I’m the same when it comes to writing. I know the goal of NaNo is to get as many words down as possible but I can’t quite shut off my inner editor and unless I’m happy I can’t really move onto the next scene (it normally ends up in me re-writing what I’ve already written for NaNo two of three times).
    Still I tend to write more during NaNo than I do any other month, I guess having the word goal pushes me to write more and more to try and reach the 50k, it may not always be good but I guess that’s what the editing after is for. πŸ™‚
    Great post, and I hope your WIPs are going well, I’d love to hear more about your witchy WIP! πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Not gonna lie I’ve never taken part in NaNoWriMo and there are a lot of reasons why. To start, I’ve yet to get an idea that sticks with me long enough to want to dedicate time to creating a full draft for and I also would be in that competitive mindset against myself. I think with having a target to meet, you worry more about the number of words than quality. Plus while it’s great to have a target to meet it can also be counterproductive in the sense that if you see you’re lagging, your motivation could actually wane because you see how much work needs to be done. I say go with what suits you best!! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so moody when it comes to writing. Sometimes I just CANNOT get an idea out of my head and other times it’s just like a soft wind that comes and goes in a matter of minutes/hours/whatever. The whole NaNo thing worked great for my RomCom, but I think Fantasy stories that have less of a blueprint, especially if you are creating a new-ish system of magic etc. make it harder to just go with the flow. I hope that made sense?


  10. It’s funny cos even having a totally different style (major planner here) I completely relate to never feeling Nano works for the same reason- I just don’t think the deadlines/competitive style suits the way I work. I also agree that every book is different and needs to be treated differently- so it makes so much sense that the witchyWIP needs to be written in a different way. Hope it goes well regardless!

    Liked by 1 person

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