The First Syllable in “November” is “No”

I kind of hate November.

First of all, Movember?  A very worthwhile cause, but moustaches are creepy.

And the end of Daylight Savings Time?  I despise Daylight Savings Time, both the start of it and the end of it, for I find mucking with the time twice a year very jarring to my circadian rhythm.

My birthday is in November, on the Scorpio-Sagittarius cusp.  I quite like my birthday  but resent having my birthday month tainted by icky ‘staches and disruptions to my sleep.

And then there’s NaNoWriMo….

Unlike my fully realized feelings on Movember, DST, and my birthday, I’ve yet to work out how I feel about National Novel Writing Month.

For one thing, I’ve never done it.  Nor am I doing it this year.  Nor am I even sure I want to someday.

Let me re-phrase that last thought: I feel like I do want to do it someday, but I’m not sure if that’s because I relish the challenge it offers or because I feel like I should want to since it’s such a renowned event in the writing community.

NaNo slow-mo

The simple fact is that I am a slow writer.  I’m pretty sure I always have been, for although I’ve been writing seriously since I was in high school, the amount of time I’ve had to devote to writing has constantly changed.

In high school, I wrote a 50-page novella in 15 days, but I worked on it during English class, lunch, spares, and at home.

My first (incomplete, shelved, someday to be rewritten) novel was a big, fat morbidly obese fantasy of 960 pages (recall: incomplete) that I worked on consistently for three years.

I wrote the first volume of my novel-in-two-volumes historical fiction WIP in nine months (which is actually pretty fast for me), but that was while I was unemployed.

In any case, I could probably count on two hands then number of times my daily word count has exceeded 1000 words.  Hell – has reached 1000 words.

NaNoWriMo requires 1667 words a day.

A right way to write?

I’ve blogged before about how being a slow writer is the thing that bothers me the most about my writing.

It’s not a constant bother – most of the time, it hovers in my subconscious, kept at bay by the fact that I’ve got wicked-awesome discipline.  I’ve got only two hours a day to write, and I guard that time ferociously, not the least of which is against internet distractions, even going so far as to unplug my modem while writing.

Come November, however, I do tend to fret a bit more than usual.  Again I get plagued by the shoulds: I should be able to writer faster; everyone else seems able to do so.

What’s my problem anyway?  Am I slow because…

  • I’m writing historical fiction, struggling to capture the ethos and voices of an ancient time period?
  • I’m trying to capture the truest essence of what I want to say in my first draft?
  • I believe the time it would me to write a clean first draft would be the same as (if not less than) what it would take to write and repair a messy first draft?
  • I’m still new relatively new at writing and finishing things, and at this point don’t know any other way to write?
  • I didn’t finish my first novel, and am now desperate to not get the end of my current one and discover it too is an unsalvageable mess?

Is any of this even a problem at all?  I mean, at least I’m actually writing.  Maybe this is just the way I’m meant to do it.

NaNoWriMo does seem like a great rite of passage that the tribe of the writer is embarking, though – one that I’m missing out on.  The online community and forums surrounding NaNo seem especially positive, even toward those who don’t end up “winning” (i.e. writing 50,000 words in 30 days).

I’m still not going to do it this year.  I’m both too close yet too far from the end of my WIP to pause it now.  Nor do I think it’s a good idea to go all NaNo on the last quarter of my novel when that hasn’t been my writing style all along.  I already feel like I’m holding my breath while writing these days, trying to create an ending that nicely ties up the plot and resolves all the previous emotional turmoil without inadvertently leaving something out.

But come next year, who knows where in my writing I’ll be.  Maybe next year, despite “No” being the first syllable in November, my answer to NaNoWriMo will be “Hell yes!”

A/N: For all you writers out there who are participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck!

(Image source)

19 thoughts on “The First Syllable in “November” is “No”

  1. If you really hate Daylight Savings Time you should move to Arizona. All of AZ, except for some Native American reservations, don’t do DST. They don’t really need to save the daylight because they are in the desert! HA! I’ve never done NaNo either. For me whenever I got fixated on the number of words I was writing the quality of my work took a nosedive. Great post


    • I would love to move to Arizona. I went there for the first time last year and the beauty and stillness of the desert took my breath away. Of course, as I Canadian citizen, I couldn’t move there easily; instead, I’d have to go to Saskatchewan, for that province doesn’t do DST either. Actually, I should go there, at least to visit: I hear the Badlands are pretty spectacular too!


  2. I was going to suggest Saskatchewan for your DST issue but you’ve already thought of that. Yes, you should definitely see the badlands in southwest SK, and the free ranging bison in Grasslands National Park too. There are also a lot of historic sites and monuments to historic events that a historical fiction writer may find inspiring.

    Now why would anyone try to write a novel in just one month? I can’t imagine any serious adult fiction writer – other than a short romance writer – doing that. My favourite author, who has published over a dozen books, took three years to finish her most recent novel and she is a full time writer. I doubt very much that she finished her first draft in a month. The purpose of the challenge is to help people become disciplined writers who make and keep a commitment to write a set amount of time or words daily. You already have that discipline.


    • Yes, Rhondo, I remember how much you love Saskatchewan. And with your description of what’s there to see, you might have just helped me make my vacation plans for next year. 🙂

      I think there are actually a lot of serious writers who do NaNo. I know of at least two published books – Water For Elephants and The Night Circus – that started off as NaNo projects. Of course, what you end up with at the end of the month isn’t immediately publishable. But those who are NaNo lovers say it can be a great way to get the bones of the story down, or otherwise find the story by quickly writing all around it and writing everything it’s not until you hit the bulls-eye. Or like you say, help people become more disciplined at writing.

      But every writer is different: some are very fast, some are very slow, and there’s a whole spectrum in between.

      I’m not totally ruling NaNo out for me someday. That day is just not today. 🙂


  3. I signed up for nanow but found the cheery reminders a bit much after I’d jumped ship mentally – in UK November is too geared to Christmas prep for writing novels – and it took ages to retrieve the password to cancel. Plus, if Kindle ‘shorts’ influence publishing lengths as anticipated, nano could be a fish out of water.


    • November is geared to Christmas prep in Canada too, unfortunately. Way too early, IMO. I personally refuse to even talk about Christmas until after my birthday.

      I’m curious about what you’ve heard about Kindle Shorts influencing publishing lengths. I’ve not familiar with what’s being said.


  4. At least my car clock’s correct again for the next six months – Britain lines up again with the rest of Europe about now. I’m using Nano as a kind of catalyst for my WIP, happily whirling away without much thought as to structure for now. Anything that gets people writing regularly can’t be bad, but it won’t suit everyone.


    • Do you really spend half the year with your car’s clock off by an hour? I’m way too anal for that; that would drive me utterly bonkers.

      It’s funny how some writers find NaNo very liberating while others (like me) more so find it paralyzing. I wish you and everyone else who has taken the plunge good luck and happy writing. 🙂


    • I think that’s another part of the NaNo challenge the people often overlook – to still feel confident in oneself as a writer and believe in one’s own methods even when going against the tide. Not everything is for everyone or at every time. Good luck with your proofreads!


  5. You know I’m blasé about that event. It’s a cool idea from a “sense of community” standpoint, but it’s turning into another YOU SHOULD for writers. I’m way over being told what I should do all the time, especially when people can’t produce evidence that supports why I should do this thing or that thing as a writer.

    Just write the way you write. No need to put additional pressure on yourself that serves no valuable end.


  6. What I don’t understand is how anyone has time for it. Who has time? Most writers I know have a day job, children, or both. I spend every spare minute of my day working on my WIPs, and some days it’s only 30 minutes. The idea of taking a month off to vomit up a novel on a whim, to put aside the darn novel–the whole series, actually–I’ve been working on for years…especially when I’m so close to publishing it…just…NaNONONO. I don’t need no stinking NaNoWriMo. Every month is NaNoWriMo! I’m in NaNoWriLimbo! (But I gotta say, it’s great here.)


    • I hear you: I do my writing in the gaps between other things – gaps that are never as long as I wish, and I don’t even have children. I’m super-impressed by those who can pull NaNo off, but I’m equally impressed by any writer who finds a way to write any amount on a regular basis. It’s definitely not easy.


  7. I have a birthday in November too…and Nanowrimo made it better. Yes it was awkward waking up at 5 every morning to write but it was amazing…like training for the olympics. Maybe if you do Nano work on something besides your main novel…give yourself a break 🙂


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