NaNoWriMo: Productive or Pointless?

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not referring to the time of year when you dress up in strange costumes and either scare or offend your entire neighborhood. I’m talking about November, National Novel Writing Month, the month during which¬†hundreds of thousands¬†of people stash obscene amounts of caffeine products in their house and develop insomnia in order to produce 50,000 words of prose.

Now, full disclosure: I have never completed a novel during NaNoWriMo. I’ve hit the 50k word limit by putting every story I’d attempted that month into a word document, but I’ve never genuinely written a novel for NaNo. I tend to burn out before the month has even started, spending weeks and months plotting in anticipation, and then reaching November, only to realize that I’ve plotted away any room for impulsiveness or creativity.

Still, countless people swear by NaNoWriMo as the single best motivational force in their lives. And every year, without fail, the NaNo hype eventually finds its way to me. This year, though, I’m not doing NaNo. I’m not even attempting it. I know that, with university applications and a self-publishing project on my plate, not doing NaNoWriMo is the best thing for me. But oh, am I ever bummed about it.

The thing about NaNo is that, regardless of whether you actually complete a manuscript (let alone a single chapter), it’s an event that brings writers together. Forums, write-ins, meetups, word wars, critique partners, and any form of support are the most essential part of a writing career. I know how much I depend on those elements.

So, here’s my verdict: is NaNoWriMo the best method of writing a novel? Maybe for some people. Is NaNoWriMo a unique and effective experience? Yes. Oh, yes.