From the Archives: “8 Reasons Not to Participate in NanoWriMo”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: October 17th, 2012 ]

Lately, there is a lot of buzz in the writing community about NanoWriMo. Many writers are gearing up for the challenge, while others are still dragging their feet on signing up. Working with self-publishing authors, I hear many different excuses for why writers decide not to participate in NanoWriMo. Here are the top eight excuses I frequently hear and my response to each of them.

1.) You don’t feel inspired. Inspiration is a classic writing myth. Serious writers don’t wait until they feel inspired to write. They write every day, no matter what. You can create the inspiration to write by changing your daily habits; you shouldn’t wait for inspiration to strike.

2.) You’re scared. This should be a reason to participate, not an excuse not to. Tackling your fears is part of growing as a writer, and it can lead to unbelievable change.

3.) You don’t have any ideas. Everyone has ideas. You just have to take the time to find them. There are plenty of books and websites dedicated to helping writers generate ideas. Even if it seems corny, complete some writing exercises to get your juices flowing. Look for ideas in your everyday world: the newspaper, books, tv shows. Be sure to keep track of all your ideas in a notebook.

4.) It’s holiday season. Sure, November is known for kicking off the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your dreams on hold. In fact, writing can be a great way to relieve some holiday stress.

5.) You’re anti-social and hate events. Many writers prefer being left alone when they are working on a book, but there are many benefits to participating in events such as NaNoWriMo. All of the information and support makes your task of writing easier. Plus, you can choose how much you interact with the other writers.

6.) You don’t believe it’s possible to accomplish. There are plenty of writers who don’t think it is possible to write a novel in 30 days, but the truth is the process works for many people. In fact, more than 90 published novels began as NaNoWriMo projects.

7.) You don’t have time. Writers always use this excuse, but the truth is, there is always time, if you make time.

8.) You have too many other responsibilities. We all have responsibilities besides writing, although many of us dream of a life where we have nothing else do except read, write, and drink coffee. The real problem is that many of us don’t know how to ask for help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate and free up time to pursue your writing dreams.

So, what’s keeping you from participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

– by Kelly Schuknecht

Many things have changed in the years between 2012 and 2016, but one thing that hasn’t changed is … how much I love NaNoWriMo. In fact, this year we’ll be setting aside several blog posts to talk about the event and how you can benefit as an author–even if you don’t buy in to the whole notion of producing an entire novel in a month, or like signing on to yet another institution.

nanowrimo writing

I think what’s special to me about my original post about this matter–all the way back in years of yore, in 2012–and that keeps bringing me back is the problem–every author’s problem, at some point or another–of finding excuses not to write. Here’s what I think of excuses:

They’re telling you something.

I mean, technically they’re telling everybody something. But against the advice of a friend who happens to be a forensic psychologist, I’m going to dip into a little psychoanalysis here and postulate that we make up excuses not to write in order to justify a truth that our bodies and our minds know on some uncommunicable level: we’re not ready. Either we’re burnt out and exhausted from other things, or we haven’t planned as well as we’d like, or maybe we’re suffering from some chronic ailment (known or unknown). And furthermore, I postulate that we can’t be our best selves much less the best writers we can be without first addressing these underlying issues–head on.

So this November, instead of challenging you to see which excuses you’re coming up with not to participate in NaNoWriMo, I challenge you to try and figure out what’s underlying your excuses. Once you know the root causes, you have three options, right?

  • Do nothing, and let sleeping dogs lie (however uneasily) and run the risk of facing writer’s block forever as a result;
  • Deal with them to the fullest extent possible and find a solution that allows you to write; and
  • Manage them in balance with other major ongoing concerns to an extent that allows you some freedom to write.

Understandably, I’m going to lobby for everyone to manage or solve their excuse-inducing-problems because I want all of you to feel unshackled and fully able to write … but I do understand that you have a life outside of writing. We all do. Sometimes that life is going to intrude upon your process as a writer, and that’s okay. It really is. Maybe this is not the year to try and hurry yourself into making NaNoWriMo work. And maybe it is. Either way, we’re here for you at SPA to support you in making the best possible decision to fit your own life and needs. Stay strong!

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog,

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