The Stresses of Nanowrimo

By Allison Miller

With Camp Nano having started on April first, it is clear that both old and new writers alike are back for another month of intensive writing. Though most of the writers that joined have elected to take on the challenge, they will most likely face problems getting to their word counts in a month’s time. Even if all of the authors on the Camp Nano website have chosen to be there of their own free will, and not forced on by parents or writing professors, they will almost all have experienced stress before the month’s end. But why is this? If everyone on the website is excited to be participating, where is all the stress coming from? When people choose to begin Camp Nanowrimo on April first, they may not consider how many words a day they need to write, may set their word count goal too high, not realize how much time it will take out of the limited days of the month, or not plan out their story before trying to write it out.

When Camp Nano writers take on their word goals and the calendar hits April first, they may not think about how many words they need to write every day. They may start with a few days of extremely high word counts but not continue to keep it up. They may think that after one day of going one hundred words over the projected goal they can take the next day off entirely, which will easily put them very behind on the road to achieving their word goal by the end of the month. A problem many writers run into while writing is the fear that they won’t get to their projected goal for the day.

Another cause of stress can be setting a word goal too high at the beginning of the year, and then realizing that it isn’t feasible to reach by the end of the month. If this is the cause of stress to the writer, however, the simple solution would be to change the word goal. Even if the person is too stubborn to admit they can’t reach their goal, the Camp Nano website will let a writer change their word goal after the beginning of the month all the way to the end, which is the same on the Nanowrimo Youth website.

Many writers also don’t realize that writing will take so much time out of their day and out of their month altogether. As the months go on, writers tend to get tired of using up their weekends to focus just on writing, without being able to hang out with their friends, or they may stay up later than usual finishing their homework along with completing their word goal for the day. This can easily get tiring for authors throughout this month and can cause them to become stressed over which things they need to eliminate from their day as they continue their novels.

One of the most heavy causes of stress on the Camp Nano participants lies not within word counts or time management skills, but rather in themselves. Many writers choose to not take the needed time to plan out and outline their stories before sitting down and deciding to take on the monumental task that is meeting a word goal and committing to writing for a month long. Since outlining is such a fundamental part of writing a story and not losing sight of the plot, it can be easy to get distracted without doing it. Without an outline, it can be immensely difficult to hint at future events in the story, let alone keep the plot moving in a progression that makes sense to the audience.

Overall, however, Nanowrimo is a fantastic experience for those who can handle it. Though it may be straining to the mind (and the schedule), the sense of achievement that comes from meeting a word goal for the day, or finishing one’s novel altogether, overcomes all the stress that got the author there. Though stress can be overwhelming sometimes, it is better to look past it and focus on the goal than to dwell on it and kill productivity. Camp Nanowrimo finishes at the end of April. Until then, good luck to all those participating!