On NaNoWriMo and word counts

Ok, I’ll say it. I don’t get NaNoWriMo.

I was thinking yesterday about how close we are to November, and then wondering what I was going to write this year. Then I realised that I’m nervous and worried about it; there’s a faint flutter of anxiety. I can’t greet it with the same terrified enthusiasm that many of my writing friends do. They already have their novels planned out, their plots in place, their ideas ready to go. They’re looking forward to the challenge, albeit knowing it’s going to be bloody hard work. And I’m not.

I gotta admit that I’m not the prime target for NaNo. I’ve been writing since I was 14 (and making up stories since I was a child), and thanks to that I have the habit of writing already ingrained. I don’t have an issue getting the stories out of my head. I don’t have a problem with writing characters, or plots, or words. I’m published, with another two books coming out in the next year, two more from the series finished and three more planned, along with a large stack of other writing that probably won’t see the light of day. I am already a writer!

I love the camaraderie. I love the write-ins, the chance to see my friends, the chance to sit down and just write, to have some time dedicated to it. I love the enthusiasm.

But…I don’t use the prompts (mostly because things like “kill someone with a shovel” don’t really fit into much of my work). The lure of cheap Scriviner deals for winners isn’t much of a prize, as I don’t use it. I can’t hit the daily totals; I either completely smash them or don’t get anywhere near. Because I’m writing a series, I struggle to explain my problems to other people, and I often need to find my own solutions to plot and character issues. I can write 36,000 words in two weeks…but I can’t do that all the time, and certainly not continuously for a month until I get to 50,000.

And it burns me out. I don’t like NaNo because I’m not that sort of writer. I don’t need most of what they’re offering, and I can’t be the sort of writer you need to be to do it successfully. But I do enjoy the social aspects of it, even if I know I’ll never win it.

So I think I’m going to use the time this year to try to get Book 6 of the GreenSky series, Desert Sands and Silence, finished. It’s currently on 12,000 words with the first four chapters mostly complete and the next three or four planned out. I also know what I want to happen in the second half, roughly, which means it still has the capacity to surprise me. If I can get that finished in the month, then I think that will be a good enough success for me to feel like I’ve ‘won’ something.

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.