NaNoWriMo Prep: Do You Really Want to Write a Novel In a Month?

With all the talk about National Novel Writing Month coming up, there’s this strange sense of oppressive anticipation, of obligation, of polarity, of excuses and hand-wringing about if people can actually finish.

And as I have said, I’m here – dedicating a post each day toward using what I learned after 10 NaNoWriMo wins and a year of writing a novel each month and helping any who wants to pass that finish line.

If you’re worried you don’t have time or energy, I’m going to spend the next week addressing how to make time to write, find the extra energy, and help sustain ourselves for a month of writing.

But before we get too far: take a step back and make sure you really want to do this.

Do you really want to write a novel in a month?

It’s okay to say no.

Maybe you think about NaNoWriMo, but it doesn’t exactly appeal. You want to have done it – but you don’t want to do it, you tried in the past and it wasn’t your thing, you prefer to write slow and controlled, you don’t actually want to write at all but you have good ideas and people say you should be a writer. Whatever the reason, for good or for ill, you’re just not that into it. It’s cool, man. You don’t have to do it. 

Let’s face it, this writing a whole ton of words in an act of creative abandon is a writer’s thing; and those of us who love it really really love it. (Seriously, we’re worse than Bikram Yoga pushers.)

But it’s not meant for everyone – not even all writers. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to even give it a second thought. And if you still want to support the cause? You can still donate to the foundation (or help a certain writer get into The Night of Writing Dangerously).

Or maybe you want to, but you genuinely don’t have time.

It’s a rare unicorn who doesn’t have some time to dedicate to writing practice of some kind, but you could be one of them. Or maybe you just can’t be arsed this year to rearrange your life enough to create the time you need.

That’s okay, too.

We are all on our own writing paths, on our own agendas and have our own schedules.

I honestly believe that NaNoWriMo has a tremendous amount of value that extends far outside the writing of a novel, even for many people who are not writers. I have learned more about myself and how to be a writer, to finish what I start, than I ever could have without it.

But if you don’t want to do it? Don’t. No guilt, no excuses, no looking back (there’s always next year).

And maybe spend the next month reading some books* instead of the internet, because the rest of seriously aren’t going to shut up about it.

(*May I recommend The Martian? It’s nothing short of amazing. Seriously, read it.)

If you want to show you appreciation for my work here and elsewhere, please consider donating a small token to the Office of Letters and Light under my fundraising page to help me get into The Night of Writing Dangerously. When you donate any amount – even just $1.00, I will send you a password for my Sponsor Content page for the year – get exclusives to excerpts from my novel, secret writing stashes, and other goodies. Keep writing! -Michelle

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