Why I’m Not Writing in NaNoWriMo

The chill winds of October remind me that November approaches and with November comes the promise of National Novel Writing Month.  I used to love National Novel Writing Month.  The challenge, the discipline did me good.  The impetus of just writing, write even if you don’t know what to write, just keep the fingers flying on the keyboard compelled me.

I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo several times and only succeeded once.  I have friends and acquaintences who continue to participate and succeed on a regular basis.

As much as I appreciate the discipline and challenge of NaNoWriMo, I have a fundamental problem with the structure of NaNoWriMo.  The one time Iw succeeded, I spewed such drivel upon the page in the final days, that the last 5,000 words were useless to me. The whole novel begs for a rewrite of an epic proportion.  When it comes to wrtiting, I’m a plotter. I need spreadsheets, index cards, maps, and research to be comfortable with what I’m writing. I’m the kind of writer who first needs to build a world and then populate it with stories.

Yet, that produces very dull stories. At least when I do it. My imagination is clean. I don’t mean that in terms of being naughty or nice, but in terms of who I imagine worlds.  My initial constructs of my fictional worlds are very much like Asimov’s worlds, or Heinlein’s. There is a minimalism and a cleanliness… or at least the absence of the grime and grit that actually make worlds interesting.

This is actually one of the things I really love about Joss Whedon’s works. He takes the standard tropes and then muddies the waters. A lot. As much as possible. It takes a lot of effort for me to muddy the waters. I like things to be easy. Easy, in stories, is boring.

In this vein, obviously, I should thrive under NaNoWriMo, forced to create on the fly is the best way to create the grime that makes a story interesting.

What I write under that pressure does create some fascinating cracks in pristine structure for the interesting quirkiness to come through, but I’m frustrated by it.

So I’m not writing in NaNo. But I still wish I was.

To my friends who take up the challenge year after year, I see you in the same category as my friends who run marathons as I run 5Ks. I’m jealous and awed.