Nano Fail

So I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. I can hear your collective gasps.

I am very aware of all the benefits to participating in National Novel Writing Month: the motivation to get words down, the camaraderie of knowing you and all your best writing buds are typing away, the assurance that it’s ok if your draft sucks since that’s what first drafts are for.

But the guilt of not making daily quotas and the inevitable burnout that always results from going full tilt don’t appeal to me, especially given the timing for me this year.

Word Count Guilt

For the past two years, I’ve participated in Nano. I’ve never “won,” but logged 20k the first year, closer to 30 the second. And I considered those victories. But the 1,700 words a day wasn’t sustainable. At least for me.

On a good day 2k is about my limit. On a really good day, 3.5k is possible. But that usually means I’m way over-caffeinated, my hand aches from writing so much, and my legs have fallen asleep from sitting so long. Not exactly the balance I seek in my writing life.

After a big writing day, I usually take a break. But during Nano, the pressure to “catch up” takes over. And while it might be good to understand just how far you can push yourself, to motivate you in the future, you eventually have to worry about…


We’ve all heard the horror stories, related to Nano and other publishing deadlines. Burnout’s no fun. It can leave your brain a pile of goo and have you questioning your resolve. And as far as I’m concerned, anything that makes you doubt your decision to write is not a good thing.

Plus, with the projects I’m working on, the goals I want to reach with them, I really can’t afford the time off to manage burnout symptoms.  Besides, I believe you should be focused on writing everyday, not just once a year, as outlined in the NaNoWriMo No post from Writer Unboxed. Slow and steady, wins the race… (at least I hope!)


Despite my (lack of) progress in Nano’s past, I have used November as a good time to jumpstart a new project or restructure an old one. But this fall, I started another project, wrote a skeletal draft, and am now fine-tuning things. The WIP is not in typical Nano shape, and I’m in too deep to consider starting one that is. So the timing just didn’t work out this year. For me.

That doesn’t mean NaNoWriMo isn’t a worthy goal for those of you forging on. But I’m sitting this one out, and hopefully I’ll be able to join in next year!

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3 thoughts on “Nano Fail

  1. Lori M. Lee says:

    I burned out my first NaNo (but I at least “won” first lol), but that meant I let it sit for months whiel I did everything else (worked on short stories, read, dithered on nothing at all) before I went back to it. I do love NaNo though, and hopefully we can both participate next year 🙂

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