This morning I see that some of the bloggers I follow are dropping out of NaNoWriMo... some are doing rewrites instead, and some are finding that the high word count obligation is reducing the fun of writing, and they're either quitting NaNoWriMo entirely or simply giving up on the 50K word count goal.
I'm here to say: THIS IS FINE. Rock on with your bad selves.
The goals of NaNoWriMo, to my mind, are as follows:
- Write fast enough that your inner editor can't catch you.
- Write more than usual. Lots more.
If writing too many words in a day just ends up burning you out, you're not going to end up writing more, are you? Slow down. If writing too many words in a day starts to feel like work, then you're going to start seeing it as a dreaded chore, and will end up writing less. Slow down. If writing too many words in a day takes away the fun in any way... well, then, seriously, what's the point? Slow down. It's cool, I promise.
- Write in a like-minded community.
You can enjoy the NaNoWriMo forums even if you never write a single word. When else will you have access to more than one hundred thousand writers who are willing to answer each other's questions? Someone on the forums taught me how to make paper. Several people on the forums answered my recent question about what it's like to get a first tattoo. Someone out there may very well have lived the exact experience you are trying to imagine for a character. Go ask 'em about it. It's a research resource that may be greater than Google, and it's available one month a year, and it doesn't require a word count of any size to get in.
- Put up or shut up.
It's all about getting your priorities in order. On the surface, joining NaNoWriMo means shutting off that rerun of The Simpsons and writing something of your own. But in a broader sense, it means no regrets. NaNo assumes that you will regret not trying to write a novel. But if anything about NaNoWriMo is making the writing process less effective or fun for you... well, then, that's going to give you a different set of priorities, isn't it? Maybe you DO need to watch that rerun, if it's the best chance for you to bond with your spouse/partner/kids. Maybe you need to rewrite something old instead of drafting something new. Maybe you need to write slower to fully enjoy the experience and get a "bad first draft" of a high enough quality that you will actually be interested in editing it later.
I burn out if I write much more than 1,000 words a day for an extended period of time. I would not have known that 1K was my upper limit if I hadn't TRIED for 2K/day during NaNoWriMo 2005... but guess what? Now I know. So I will never try to force myself to write more than 1,000 words in a day, even if it is November. If I've got genuine inspiration or a clear sense of story to carry me on, maybe I'll go for it, but I'm not going to push. And so, I joined NaNoWriMo this year knowing that I would not win. At least, not from a word count perspective.
But if I have a clear sense of what my next novel is about in December? Then I will have won the challenge that matters to me.
Don't get worked up about this. Do it your way.