So I did NaNoWriMo this year — was it worth it?

Every November, I debate whether or not to participate in NaNoWriMo. Most years, I end up doing it, but I try to only do NaNoWriMo if I have a project that would benefit from its word-count driven format.

I skipped NaNoWriMo last year because I was working on book one of the Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom? Since one of my goals for that book was to keep it short so that parents would actually be able to use it, a contest that would encourage me to write 50,000 words when 12,000 would do wasn’t a good idea.

This year, my goal was to jumpstart book two of the Caterpickles Parenting Series. Since this one focuses on helping parents nurture their child’s curiosity across a number of areas, not just art, it’s going to be a bit longer. 50,000 words sounded about right, frankly.

What with the move this past fall, I had fallen months behind my self-imposed schedule for writing book two. I thought NaNoWriMo would be an excellent way to catch up.

The good thing about having to churn out 50,000 words in a month is that it forced me to sit and write every day on the same project, so I’m not feeling stuck any more. The bad thing about having a 50,000-word goal is that I will do whatever it takes to meet it, even if it means using twelve words when I only needed two.

As a result, while I technically won NaNoWriMo this year, I think I would have been better off if I’d lost. My 50,000 words need so much editing that I still feel months behind on this project. If I could do the month over, if I could have the time back, I would spend it writing on the book without thinking about word count at all.

How about you? Did you do NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

 

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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