This post is really just an expansion on a conversation we had last week while waiting for our GM to show up on game night. Most people in our regular gaming group1 are also writers. That super awesome writer’s group I mentioned in the last post? I met them doing NaNoWriMo in 2010. To say that we treat NaNo like some sort of month-old holiday/torture session is an understatement.
Most of us have done several years of this project. Many of us have come to realize that while NaNo has a special place in our hearts, there are flaws to the system. The most notable is that we all have these unfinished and unmanageable drafts. It’s stressful, it’s tiring, and it usually leaves us so burnt out that we don’t write again until January, at least.
While thinking about this, I posited that this isn’t a flaw to NaNo, but an issue with how our group approaches and practices it. While NaNo does focus on quantity over quality — and your mileage may vary whether that works or not — our group is full of people forever trying to figure out how to fit writing in alongside necessary adult tasks. We give ourselves permission to be writers above all else in November, but then treat it like November is the ONLY month we get to be writers. We heap on so much pressure and hope in the month — it’s no wonder that we burn out, that we start pulling away from NaNo as an event, as an overall good.
The great news is that I think we’ve all started to realize this, and we’ve self-corrected a bit. We’re developing the habit of meeting up for weekly writing outside of November. We’re moving away from rushing through our novels, without losing the collaborative, supportive elements that make NaNo in November such a great event.
I’m still doing NaNo, of course. It’s like Writer Christmas, and I love it. This year, though, I’m hoping to do so without burning our and losing sight of why I like writing in the first place.