A few days ago I passed the goal of 50k words written this month, ‘winning’ National Novel Writing Month and being given that pretty picture up there. So now I’m done, how would I describe my experience being a NaNoWriMo Participant?
Well more irritating than anything really.
I started out with good intentions and decided to make an effort to embrace the spirit of the thing by contributing in the forums, but after the first week I never loaded them up again. I quickly found them to be something of a female dominated political correct echo chamber where there was no real discussion. It seemed that everyone there would happily congratulate you for just pissing in to the wind. Perhaps I just didn’t find the right sub-forum, but the discussions were shallow and dripped with so much fabricated enthusiasm that it made me want to vomit. Maybe I’m just too cynical.
The site sent me regular emails, some of which I found useful. There were a few articles and helpful tips that were worth a read. Mostly however, they were full of a sickening amount of generic praise. So much that it soon became patronising being told that I was incredible and fantastic and wonderful all the time. I think it would take something of a narcissist to need automated messages telling them that they’re awesome to stay motivated.
Also the constant barrage of messages asking for donations and pushing of NaNoWrioMo merchandise throughout the month was irritating to say the least. I understand they want to make money but they went way overboard. Even the ‘winning’ screen that popped up after validating my word count offered a winner’s shirt (just $16.67 when you follow the link!), another link to the NaNoWriMo store, as well as a request to ‘please donate in honor of your achievement.’ Pretty shameless if you ask me.
Something I did find useful is the on-site stat tracking and graphics. It was all very slick, and the badges helped to gamify the whole process making it seem more fun to reach those milestone word counts. In fact it motivated me to make my own spreadsheet version so I can keep track of my daily wordcount once November ends. So there’s a positive.
Overall I’m glad I took part. I would even recommend if anyone is considering taking part next year that they should give it a try. If you can stop from losing yourself in the sea of phony positivity and barrage of advertisements then it is a satisfying process to finish the month with 50k words under your belt and ‘win’ the thing. It’s free to sign up on the site and track your progress, and there are some helpful resources on there if you go looking.
But will I be going back next year? Not a chance.
© 2015, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Photo from National Novel Writing Month with Unknown License.