Surviving NaNoWriMo and ignoring the FoMO

Living as a Writer Series

November is nearly upon us and with it all the tweets, blog posts, and Facebook chatter. There’s a belief that everyone has a novel in them. That may be true, but it may also not be true for you this year; this November.

You don’t have to take part in NaNoWriMo

I know. That’s practically heretical to say to writers, particularly early writers just finding their way. I’ve done NaNo four times and won it four times. If you’re ready for it, by all means, do it. It’s a great experience. I plan on doing it again this year. But you know yourself. You know if you’re ready, or if you even want to write a novel. Don’t let the Fear of Missing Out push you into a miserable slog that leaves you feeling like you’ve failed. Writing is hard enough and there are plenty of ways to feel like a failure.

You don’t have to write a novel

Sure, it’s called National Novel Writing Month but there are no writing police checking to see if you’re really writing a novel. If you want to participate but don’t have a novel, you can do other things.

Last year I wrote a collection of short stories. I used all the collective positive energy, writing sprints, and write-ins to write 50,000 words of short stories. I had enough that I’m still editing and submitting them to markets.

You can edit a novel instead of write one. Count the words you review and edit, then put it in NaNo’s tracker. You can still win the month.

A word about winning NaNoWriMo

Officially you ‘win’ NaNo if you write 50,000 words in November. I think that sells a writer’s work short. If you make a real effort and only get 20,000 or 10,000 words, did you really lose the month? No. Chances are you wrote more than you usually do in a month. Those are words written. Words you no longer need to write. That’s a win.

How will you spend November?


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