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5 Reasons Why National Novel Writing Month is a Bad Idea

November 18, 2019

(image via wikimedia)

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for a bunch of writers and bloggers.  Despite being a writer and a blogger, I have never been a fan of National Novel Writing Month.  One of my first blog posts ever denounced National Novel Writing Month as National Bad Writing Month, and over the years I haven’t changed my mind, even though I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things since then.

Over the last few years, I have changed my mind about football.  I have changed my mind about conspiracy theories.  I have even changed a lot of my political opinions.  But I haven’t changed my mind about National Novel Writing Month

Here are five reasons why I think NaNoWriMo is a bad idea:

  1. National Novel Writing Month has a crappy acronym.

NaNoWriMo is a really stupid-looking acronym.  I understand why it has to be like that.  It’s a pain to keep writing National Novel Writing Month repeatedly, so we bloggers use the acronym NaNoWrMo, which is kind of possible to pronounce if you really want to.

The acronym NNWM isn’t really an option because it’s it’s more difficult to say than National Novel Writing Month.  NNWM also sounds like a controversial 1980s rap group, and that’s the kind of controversy that most bloggers don’t want.  Plus, nobody likes vowel-free acronyms.  It’s a sign of no creativity, and an acronym for writers should sound creative.

2.  NaNoWriMo leads to bad writing.

A 60,000 word novel in a month is a lot, especially if you have a full-time job and a family.  It’s tough for full-time professional writers to get to 60,000 words in a month.  James Patterson hires coauthors” to write for him, and they still don’t hit 60,000 words and the novels still suck.  60,000 words is an unreasonable goal, and unreasonable goals lead to bad writing.

  1. NaNoWriMo is an internet challenge.

I’m not a fan of internet challenges because I don’t like the internet telling me what do.  It’s bad enough that the internet monitors where I go and what I read and what sites I visit.  It’s also bad that the internet tries to predict my future actions by giving me recommendations.  Now the internet is challenging us to do stuff.  When the internet challenges me to do something, I tell the internet to take a hike.

  1. NaNoWriMo is a long internet challenge.

Most internet challenges are short.  Stuff like The Ice Bucket Challenge a few years ago takes only a few seconds.  NaNoWriMo takes a whole month.  That’s too long for an internet challenge.  I’m against internet challenges, but if I ever participate in one, it will be a short challenge.  Maybe I’d write a six-word story on a napkin.  Six-word stories can be challenging, but it won’t take as long as a 60,000 word novel.  If I fail the challenge, I can fail in a few minutes.  It won’t take me a month to fail.  I pride myself on my efficiency; I’d rather fail at something quickly than slowly.

  1. NaNoWriMo causes stress.

Writers get stressed out over NaNoWriMo.  They get stressed out if they fall behind in the word count.  They get frustrated at the quality of their writing.  Sometimes I think the powers-that-be want us to be stressed out.  If we’re stressed out, we can’t think clearly, and when we can’t think clearly, the powers-that-be can do what they want without the rest of us noticing.  The powers-that-be might be manipulating us with the fake stress of NaNoWriMo, and I choose to keep my writing stress-free.

I don’t want to come across as a whiner about NaNoWriMo, so here are some alternative challenges to NaNoWriMo.  Like I said, I’m not a fan of challenges, but if you’re going to do one, here are some suggestions!

  1. The Spend a Month Revising and Editing your Best Blog Post Challenge!
  2. The Write a Novel in the next Ten Years Contest!
  3. The Help a Struggling Indie Author by Buying A Book Challenge!!
  4. The Limit Yourself to Reading Only Three Books per Author Challenge!!
  5. The One-Star Review For Bestselling Books (but logically explain why it’s bad without being mean) Campaign-


Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t look down upon writers who participate in NaNoWriMo.  It takes commitment, and I respect that.  But I still think National Novel Writing Month is a bad idea.

What do you think?  What other factors make NaNoWriMo a bad idea?  If you disagree, why do you think NaNoWriMo is a good idea?

  1. I don’t do NaNoWriMo, but I would consider several of yours, especially 1, 3, and 5. All are hilarious, though.

  2. What if it were called Novel November for short? Would that be better?

    I still wouldn’t like it, though. It’s a silly idea, and as you said, there is already enough bad writing out there.

  3. I totally see your point. For me it’s a bit of extra motivation that helps get me moving, and the bad writing is something that I can always fix later because at least it’s finished writing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without some serious flaws.

  4. I’ve taken part in Camp NaNo which comes in the spring and is a much more relaxed affair – set your own word limit for example. I’ve joined ‘Cabins’ for that (yes, I know, daft terminology can be added to your reasons to dislike it!) and have ‘met’ some terrific bloggers with whom I’ve struck up relationships.
    So I get the attraction but I think you have to approach with caution and intelligence – as you say, don’t take the word count too seriously (the ‘badge’ you earn for completing the challenge is not worth the break down of your marriage!) and anyone taking part should be banned from publishing the results immediately. NaNo can only produce a partial first draft at best NOT a finished book.
    Be interesting to know how many (if any) successful novels have started as a NaNo project.

  5. I’ve “won” nanowrimo three times. But the manuscripts I created are so poorly structured that the revisions I have to do are challenging, to say the least. I think one of them simply has a fatal flaw that makes it impossible to complete. One of them I am working on right now, using nanowrimo as my editing month.

  6. Love your honesty! I only have done the challenge once and it almost wore me out (as did the NaPoWriMo challenge). My ‘novel’ was very much ‘first draft’ and after 50,000 words it wasn’t even completed. But the exercise did teach me a lot. I write everyday anyway so that wasn’t the challenge for me. The challenge was to sustain writing on a particular story line. I think the one thing I learned – and this was important – was that I do not want to be a novelist. I want to be a poet and even stretching that maybe to being a flash fiction writer. I very much understand your position and think the challenge needs an additional challenge of revision (which I think they do have a three month revision challenge). I do like your alternative challenges. 🙂

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