Each November, April and July, and maybe some months between here and there, writers gather in a virtual space to do one thing: write a certain number of words in a cramped, month-long time span. In 30 days or less, stories come to life faster than the average set of hands can type.
WriMos, or “writing months” aren’t new to me. I decided on a whim to try my first one back in 2008 and, because I’m addicted to writing and don’t get along with the slumber gods, have won every consecutive year since. I don’t like admitting that. I only do it for credibility reasons, so when I talk about WriMos, readers don’t think I’m just some random blogger writing about writing.
I mean, I am just some random blogger writing about writing. But I don’t have any major publications to my name (anyone can blog). So I need something to show for all the work I’ve done. Something that maybe might impress someone.
The problem is, WriMos don’t impress too many people these days. I don’t write to impress. But I’m a big advocate for being on the Internet for a good cause, not just to post random things with my name on them. Everything I do, there’s a reason I do it. I dish out writing advice because I know what it’s like to be a writer and feel like my art isn’t worth anything. I started Novelty Revisions to give writers new opportunities to take their ideas and make beautiful words out of them—no matter what they write, no matter how fast or slow they want to go.
Tomorrow marks the end of my first summer Camp NaNoWriMo, and this November I’ll attempt and maybe even finish my eighth consecutive National Novel Writing Month (50,000 words in 30 days). I do it for motivation and to keep my larger writing projects on track. But honestly, I could probably do without.
I want to do 10 consecutive years of NaNo and then re-evaluate whether or not to continue. More likely than not, 2017 will be my last year. Even though the few books I have finished have all at least started during a WriMo.
Why WriMos Don’t Impress Me Anymore
Your first year doing a WriMo is new and exciting. 50,000 words seems like a lot—and it is, if you’ve never paid attention to your word count all that much before. And finishing, if you do, is even more exciting. That is, if you pace yourself, play by the rules and actually end the month with something worth your effort.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people claim to write 10,000 words a day for a week straight. I don’t care who you are, that’s not possible. I’ve written over 10,000 words in one day before, but you can’t keep up that pace for long. You just can’t. If you’re going to fudge your numbers, why bother participating in the first place?
You could argue here that we shouldn’t worry so much about what other people do, but isn’t the whole point of a writing community supposed to be, I don’t know, working together? Not specifically on projects, but as support? Something fun? Everyone in my cabin this month disappeared after about a week. Writing itself is an individual effort, but I don’t know a lot of other writers, and for some reason I always start off every WriMo thinking I’ll actually “meet” some.
So Why Don’t I Just Stop?
Because I’m stubborn. Because I look forward to those few months out of the year I can make writing my main focus. Because the project I’m working on right now, a YA sci-fi something-or-other, has been through multiple WriMos and has survived multiple complete reconstructions. I’m so busy and overwhelmed these days, I honestly don’t know if I would have made as much progress as I have over the past few months without the promise of a WriMo always lurking in the shadows.
I don’t use WriMos for word count, honestly. I use them to keep me on track, to give me a measurable goal to reach. If you’re the kind of person that needs that kind of motivation, then you understand what I mean. So even though I could do without them, even though I get really tired of writers making a huge deal about how much they can write in so little time (myself included), I’m sorry to admit that because WriMos are sort of where I first started writing longer stories, I’m almost dependent on them to keep my work flow steady.
I’m sure some of you reading probably have different views on the subject, and I’d really love to hear from you in the comments. I’m not saying WriMos are good or that they’re bad. We just have a love-hate relationship, and half the time I don’t even know if I should keep putting them on my calendar.
So, fellow former or current WriMo participants. How do you feel?
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter.