This comment has reached the point where it just needs to be a post. Camilla_Anna wrote:
I have to ask, why do you still do Nano after a few years of it? You know you can write like a fiend if you have to, now. What's the point?
I did Nano two years ago, and would have made it if I hadn't had family obligations out the wazoo. The novel isn't done yet, but I blame too many projects on that. I don't dare start another project, I've got to finish a novel.
I kinda thought the point of nano was for people getting started in writing, to prove to themselves that they can write a big body of work if they try.
I just love NaNoWriMo. It's a goofy idea. Chris Baty is one silly, silly man, and the whole concept hits me right. I highly recommend his NaNoGuide No Plot? No Problem! for both laughs and motivation.
But you hit the point for me with “if you have to.” I don't have to any other time of the year. So beyond being silly, for me it's also effective. It's a motivation issue. There is something about the sense of community that works for me in getting a first draft done. I like the 'we're all in this together' sense that I get — rallying the troops, holding write-ins. I dig recruiting would-be writers, and encouraging first-year novelists. Getting them through the Week Two slump, cheering at the 25k mark, and celebrating The End with them.
I also like that deadline. All writers work differently; finishing a first draft of a novel is a monumental task for me and could drag on for months or years without something like NaNo to kick my ass. A short-term project with a high-pressure deadline, a like-minded community, and a clear goal is a perfect recipe for productivity for me.
It was also much easier the second year than the first. I had a fair idea of what worked and what didn't from the year before.
The rest of the year I write short stories, and edit my NaNovels. Last year I tried to impose my own WriMo during January, to get last year's novel written, and failed. A deadline that I make up for myself but am not accountable for in any real way doesn't work for me. Things come up and I'll fudge the deadline, push it back, tell myself that it's self-imposed so it doesn't matter.
I like the way Chris Baty put it:
Give someone a goal and a like-minded community and miracles are bound to happen. Pies will be eaten at amazing rates. Alfalfa will be harvested like never before. And novels will be written in a month.
I also feel guilty about my other projects when I work on a novel during the rest of the year. I know that's neurotic, but there's something about devoting myself to something *huge* that won't be finished forfreakingever when I could be writing a 5k short story and getting it in the mail. November is the month where I give myself permission to not think about those other projects, because November will be over soon.
So I still do it because it works for me on a number of levels. I must not be alone in that, because we have returning Municipal Liasons and droves of returning NaNovelists. I suppose it could be compared to a marathon — some may run it once to prove to themselves that they can, and then never do it again. Others will come back and run it year after year, and even when they don't want to participate anymore they'll cheer from the sidelines.
I don't know if I'll always need this, but I hope I don't quit anyway — because even if I manage to crank out three novels a year on my own, I still find NaNoWriMo fun.