Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Writer's Wednesday with Barbara Wallace

Harlequin Romance and Entangled author Barbara Wallace  talks about writing and Nanowrimo

It’s November, and for writers, that means falling into one of two groups: those who are doing Nanowrimo and those who aren’t.  If you are one of those daunting souls attempting to write 50,000 words this month, I wish you good luck.  You can stop reading this post right now.  (Why are you online reading in the first place?  Go write!  Go, go, go!)
I, however, am not a Nanowrimo fan.  While  I applaud the theory behind Nanowrimo – I support any activity that encourages regular writing and the killing of internal critics – there are aspects of the program I find counterproductive. 
1.       I don’t like situations where my productivity can be compared to others.  One of the goals behind Nanowrimo is to silence your inner critic by writing as fast and as much as possible.  However, if you are an insecure writer (and I confess I am extremely insecure), publicly sharing output is actually counterproductive.  What happens to me is that rather than disappear, my inner critic simply shifts its focus from the quality to quantity of my writing.  I stress out so much about getting words down I freeze.  Don’t laugh – I avoid 1K1Hr drills on Twitter for the same reason.

2.       The above dovetails nicely into my next point: Some writers are naturally slow writers.  To reach Nanowrimo’s 50,000 mark, a writer has to produce approx. 1650 words per day, seven days a week.  This might not sound like a lot, but don’t forget, this goal must be achieved around the rest of your life.  (I know, Nanowrimo says to get help for the month, but let’s face it, life is still going to happen.  Thanksgiving will continue to come, as will kids’ colds and people’s day jobs.) Now I don’t know about you, but on a good day, I manage 500 words an hour.; some days I manage less – especially when you factor in the fear listed under point number 1.  Since I write full-time, 1650 words isn’t all the unrealistic.  But if I had a day job or young kids, or elderly relatives arriving for the holidays (oh wait, I have that last one), then 1650 words might trickle down to 300 words.  Go back to point one where I have to share my output.  At this point, I’m not only producing less, I’m producing much less.  For me, that’s just a set-up for failure.

3.       Along the same vein, Nanowrimo doesn’t take in account writers’ personal processes.  Everyone approaches writing differently.  Some write out of order, some writer linearly.  Some are able to blast through, leaving spaces for details to be filled in later.  I cannot.  Believe me, I’ve tried.   

4.        Finally – and this is my biggest complaint = is Nanowrimo’s narrow focus.  I’ve seen too many writers kill themselves to produce in November only to see their productivity slack off the rest of the year.  I’d much rather a project that strives for consistent productivity.  Call it a NanowriLIFE if you will, where regular writing and realistic goal setting last all year long. 
Those are my reasons why I don’t like Nanowrimo.  If you’re not participating this year, I’d like to hear your reasons.  And for writers who are, what draws you to the project?  Please share.
Barbara Wallace is spending her November revising her latest for Harlequin Romance.  Her most current release is.  The Billionaire’s Matchmaker from Entangled Publishing.  You can also follow her on Twitter at @barbaratwallace.
Can a feisty four-legged matchmaker help four best friends find the romance of their dreams?

The Billionaire's Matchmaker from Entangled Indulgence

Available For Kindle; For Nook; For Kobo


  1. I entered nanowrimo as a way to push myself to work on a new project. Especially as I'm probably going to be emotionally paralized for a while after #sytycw2013. I'm not going to worry if I don't meet the goals. I usually write in Word but for Nano I use Scrivenor so I can write out of order. I do the #1k1hr things on Twitter too but not to achieve word count but to make myself focus on writing for one hour without skittering off to a million and one other things.

  2. That's what a lot of people do, Fi - I am glad it works for you. I don't know how you write out of order though. It stymies me. Good luck in #SYTYCW

  3. I'm with you. Thanks for expressing this!! I actually just wrote a post along the same theme on my own blog. :)

  4. I'm going to read yours now, Heather! I think that Nanowrimo is great for some people, but those of us for whom it's not a good fit shouldn't feel bad.