The Tortoise and the Hare: Is NaNoWriMo for You?

NOTE: A while back, I shared my experience trying to do a Continuous Creation Challenge. Today, I’m over at Joel Zaslofsky’s Value of Simple blog sharing even more about 3 Surprising Ways to Completely Ruin Your Continuous Creation Challenge. Come check it out, and then look around the rest of the blog. Joel’s got a great website full of helpful insights for creatives. 

It’s almost NaNoWriMo time, folks.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo before. It’s intense–by design. 50,000 words in a single month. For perspective, it took me about two years to write the 70,000 words of my novel in progress. To make it to the finish line, you’ve got to crank it out at a pace of 1666 words a day.

You’ve got to write for speed. You’ve got to write like you’re racing. You’ve got to be a hare.

nanowrimo, writing styles

For some people, this kind of kick is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Some people are really good at cranking out those words–Chuck Wendig has said he writes 3,000 words every day. Others function better under the pressure of a deadline, or simply require external motivation to get that pen to paper.

For those people, NaNoWriMo is a great tool.

But there’s other people NaNoWriMo is NOT for. 

If you’re writing pace is slower. If you’re an independent worker. If you can’t sit and focus for five hours at a time. If you can’t put the rest of your life on pause for 30 days.

Me, for example. I’m more the slow-and-steady type. I’m a tortoise. 

nanowrimo, writing stylesIn theory, I love the NaNoWriMo concept. I might even try it again sometime if it lined up right with a time I was trying to kickstart a new project.

But disrupting everything else to focus solely on a new novel for that long a period just doesn’t work for me. So if I do try it again, I’m going to play by my own rules this time–set my own goals instead of doing the official NaNoWriMo 50,000-word sprint.

I highly recommend this kind of self-catering. In fact, as writer or any kind of creative, knowing your work style is the most powerful thing you can do. 

So tell me … how do you work best? 

PS–For those who want to set their own parameters but still enjoy the support and accountability of a community, a lesser known but great alternative to NaNoWriMo is A Round of Words in 80 Days.

PPS (added 11/2)–Another great alternative is Meghan Ward’s Writerland Challenge, which I did and enjoyed last year.

Like it? Share it!

Is #NaNoWriMo for you?–Click to tweet this
Writing Styles: The Tortoise and the Hare–Click to tweet this
As a creative, knowing your work style is the most powerful thing you can do–Click to tweet this

Photos by Mike Rae and Dave Taylor


3 thoughts on “The Tortoise and the Hare: Is NaNoWriMo for You?

  1. I have the worst of both worlds – I’m a tortoise in practice but I never can shake myself of the suspicion I could be a hare if I tried a little harder.

  2. Emily, Thank you for letting me know about A Round of Words in 80 Days! Another alternative to NaNoWriMo is the Writerland Challenge, which begins today! I will be posting about it in the next half hour, and, as one of the first 10 to sign up last year (thank you!) your blog will be featured.

    • Glad to point you to another great tool, I’m a big fan of Round of Words–and I can’t believe the Writerland Challenge slipped off my radar for this. In fact, I’m going to add it. Thanks Meghan!

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