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Why I Will Never Participate In NaNoWriMo

We’re only a week away from the start of the highly anticipated annual writing project known as National Novel Writing Month. Right now thousands of writers are preparing to begin this project that officially commences on November 1st.

The month-long writing event—most commonly referred to by its abbreviation, NaNoWriMo—challenges authors to write 50,000 words in the span of 30 days. This annual project is quite popular and has helped launch the careers of several authors as they ended up publishing the novels they wrote during NaNoWriMo.

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Another positive byproduct of NaNoWriMo is that it promotes discipline, dedication, and perseverance to the craft of writing as authors must maintain an approximate 1,667 minimum daily word count in order to complete 50,000 words by the deadline.

But what I want to address in this essay is the one glaring negative no one seems to talk about, and is the reason why I will never partake in NaNoWriMo.

Although the idea and benefits of NaNoWriMo are fantastic, its timing isn’t (and no, it has nothing to do with it conflicting with football season . . . although that argument could reasonably be made).

The reason I refuse to participate in NaNoWriMo is because of the distraction it creates during the most cherished and anticipated holiday of the year for my family.

Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of warmth, sharing, and reflection, and a much needed respite in a world that has grown so busy, even the holidays have become a blur. It’s a time to gather with friends and family, and show gratefulness to God for all the blessings we take for granted the rest of the year.

But the distraction that NaNoWriMo creates—drawing writers away from all that makes this season and holiday great—is not a compromise I'm willing to make.

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If you want to participate in National Novel Writing Month but, like me, you don’t want the most wonderful time of the year to pass you by while you’re staring at a computer screen, then I have a solution for you.

Say hello to the NaNoWriMo alternative: JuNoWriMo (see here).

What is JuNoWriMo? It’s exactly what you think it is: it’s like NaNoWriMo except in June.

With JuNoWriMo you can beat the heat of summer by staying indoors with the air conditioner blasting and the sweet tea flowing as you pen your next best seller.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: “Dear strikingly handsome author of this finely crafted article, JuNoWriMo may be a great alternative to NaNoWriMo, but summers are far too busy for me.”

You’ve made an excellent point, my charming and intelligent reader.

Like most of you, my summers are extremely busy, so trying to pen a novel in a month is simply not going to happen. But fortunately, for people like you and me, there’s yet another alternative.

Allow me to introduce you to JaNoWriMo (see here and here). It’s the January cousin of NaNoWriMo and JuNoWriMo. It’s the perfect solution for people with busy summers, and it happens to be my personal choice.

Why do I think January is the best time for a novel writing month? I’m glad you asked because I have three reasons:

Reason #1: What else is there to do in the most depressing month of the year? I mean, seriously. As the lull of the new year settles in like all that weight you gained over the holidays, you can beat the boredom and winter blues by using this miserable time of the year to bang out that book you’ve been wanting to write, and you can accomplish it alongside the warmth of a crackling fire with a hot cup of coffee as your companion while the snow piles up outside your window (unless you live in Florida).

Reason #2: January has 31 days while June and November only have 30 days. This means you’ll have an additional day to complete your 50,000 words.

Reason #3: You’ll have a new novel written by February 1st. What better way to start off the new year?

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So go ahead, write that book in January, or June, or pick your very own month, and then spend more of your Novembers sipping hot lattes, eating home made pie, and making lasting memories with your family. I promise, you won’t regret it.


J.L. Pattison is the author of The Island and Saving Kennedy, and is looking forward to gaining weight this upcoming holiday season.