Why I’m not Doing NaNoWriMo

Happy Monday everyone… and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

May all the ghouls and ghosties resist the urge to devour your immortal souls and may you be gifted with plenty of candy to fill your trick-or-treating pumpkins.

I hope everyone had an amazing weekend: we were once again a hit as the tastiest and most-stylish sammich on the market (by which I mean at a Halloween party), I’m 99.9% sure that I haven’t bought enough candy to last me the evening (and by ‘me’, I definitely mean all the little trick-or-treaters who will be stopping by our decorated front porch for some lollies—by the way, Americans don’t know what that word means. Huh?) and I have absolutely no idea what to write about today.

If you read these posts and you’ve never blogged before, and you (perhaps foolishly, but let’s not debate that right now) decided that you’d start off your blog schedule with three posts a week, you’d maybe be surprised by how hard it can be to come up with something worth blogging about that often. The answer? Quite challenging sometimes, even when you have multiple different files on OneNote with proposed different ideas (oops). And even when you have a really busy mind, so realistically you should never struggle for what to write about.

Luckily, I’m dating a pretty brilliant human being, so everyone feel free to give James the kudos for today’s blog post topic!

NaNoWriMo. For anyone who doesn’t know, NaNoWriMo is a catchy abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month, which is (very) basically a 30-day challenge to help people write a novel. You sign up at NaNoWriMo.org, register and then start writing, keeping track of your word count as you go, with the aim to reach 50 000 words by the end of November. If you’re on Twitter, following the NaNoWriMo account, or simply searching #NaNoWriMo will inundate you with truckloads of people planning their project for this year. Historically, people have noted that it helped them finish the first draft of a new novel, it allowed them to network with other writers, it may even have (in a few cases) led to a novel that later saw them getting an agent or a publishing deal… All of which results sound, honestly, pretty damn good. I’ve just told you all these great things about it, and I love to writing and I want to get a novel written and published some day, right? But I’m not doing NaNoWriMo.

So then, the million dollar question is: why not?

Good question (at the end of me answering it, please feel free to send your cool and casual million to me in $10 000 lots in small, unmarked notes, preferably by some undetectable means such as camel). Well, like most decisions, this one is multi-faceted.

Looking at where I’m currently at with my novel, I estimate that I’m anywhere from 5000-10 000 words from finishing the first draft: possibly even a lot less, but I want to give myself some wiggle room. Hardly surprisingly, therefore, finishing this project is at the forefront of my mind and I don’t want anything else going on that may distract me from achieving that goal.

Secondly, studying during Trimester 3 this year with UNE means that I have some additional work on my plate at the moment. I’ve also applied for a generalist internship at The Bent Agency without really knowing what time frame that would be over, but aware that it would be about a 10-hour per week commitment. Admittedly, that’s not really that much, but it is more time that is now absorbed by something else. Of course, I may not get that internship… But in the event that I do, I want to have the scope to give it my full attention. Plus, I’m writing this blog post on Monday morning (in a complete hurry to get it done and posted), so clearly I also need to remember my investment of time and energy in blogging. Basically—it’s important to me to decide how I’m going to allocate my time.

I recently read a Twitter thread about NaNo by a writer (@Emberchyld) who spoke about the tendency of participants in either NaNo or Inktober (similar concept to NaNoWriMo, only focused on drawing throughout the month of October) to be disheartened by ‘failing’. It’s a great discussion of some of the pitfalls of NaNoWriMo and if you’re on Twitter, I encourage you to check it out; however, what really resonated with me was this—[these events] “are about making time to create and turning off our inner critic/perfectionist as we do so”. Thus, a key element of NaNoWriMo is learning how to freely create without self-censorship, and to do so regularly in order to produce a work. For me then, the consideration is—I’ve already been developing my capacity to write consistently and without being hamstrung by the need for ‘perfection’ or ‘motivation/inspiration.’

Finally, despite knowing that my first novel is (planned) as part of a multi-novel series to be written at some point in my literary career, I already have my next project roughly scoped out in my mind… But I don’t see it as being something that it’s appropriate to tackle during NaNo. As soon as the first draft of my novel as finished, I’ll be putting it away for a month or so in order to start planning and coordinating writing my grandfather’s biography. I see that as being a pretty mammoth task, and I think that the research, planning and actualisation of it (especially considering I have no experience with biographies) will be fairly all-consuming. Never mind the fact that I still need to finish transcribing my novel! My final reason therefore is—my next desired work isn’t suitable for NaNoWriMo.

In summary, I think NaNoWriMo is an awesome idea and a great opportunity to build some fantastic habits and start putting together your novel: if that’s what you want to do! Regardless, remember that writing is a gift and whichever way we choose to pursue our writing, it’s a beautiful, challenging and amazing thing to be doing.


If you’re interested in NaNoWriMo, it’s not too late to sign up and give it a shot! I’ve put together a list of great blog posts by some amazing bloggers who’ll be taking part in NaNo this years: check these out for some inspiration and good ideas about how to get started and what you need to think about.

Evie Redding’s Quick Fire Tips for NaNoWriMo Plotting

K.M. Weiland’s NaNoWriMo Series:

1- How to Outline for NaNoWriMo: Should You Outline Your Novel?

2- Start Your Outline With These Four Questions

3- 3 Steps to Find the Heart of Your Story

4- How to Find and Fill All Your Plot Holes

Good luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo and we’ll see you on the other side!

— Ana.

[Image credit to the Australian Writers’ Centre – Facebook Page]


  1. I’m not doing NaNo other. I keep getting asked to explain why not, like it’s a part of the ‘being a writer’ that I’ve failed to turn up for. Still, kudos to all taking part, it sounds like a damn good thing.
    7pm and I’m almost out of sweets ?

    • I have been asked about it a LOT recently, and I’m like… Well, it’s not the right time for me. Never mind the fact that I’m happy to just put together a novel in a timeframe that works for me: otherwise I feel like it can get pretty stressful if you’re putting pressure on yourself!
      Haha we actually had some people show up! I’m shocked, but not surprised we didn’t go through all our candy (I REALLY over-catered :p)

  2. Greyson Perry said something along the lines of, Don’t let what you love torture you. Discipline is so important, but I needed to understand why before I could really appreciate its value.

    I scraped through the sweet situation by the skin of my teeth. 2 chocolate eyeballs left. After that I was going with boiled eggs.

  3. I think NaNo is brilliant for some people not brilliant for others. For me, there is just no conceivable way I can juggle work, family, marathon training and a host of other activities and find the time to keep up with the output rate. Great to hear your novel is progressing so well 🙂

    Oh, and if you need a blog subject tip next time you are stuck I can highly recommend a conversation piece between yourself and your writing brain (mine generally manifests as a talking, swearing cat) – works for me haha!

    • I agree: I think it’s a great concept as well, and I may try it next year, but realism also dictates that it’s not going to work so well for some people! Hahaha Nik, that is an awesome idea. I would love to hear the conversations you have!

  4. Me neither! I’m in the middle of re-fleshing (is that even a word?!) a draft and though I have an idea for another novel in mind, I am letting it simmer!

    • I’m glad to hear I’m not alone! Sometimes it feels like the whole world is doing NaNo 😛 Haha we’re writers, so we can make up our own words and it’s totally legitimate :p I think that’s a good plan! And I look forward to reading your draft sometime soon 🙂

Leave a Reply