It’s November and word counts and madly typing writers have consumed the internet. As I watch the madness, I’ve had this feeling that I’m sitting on the sidelines. Somehow, I’m less productive, less speedy, less than the writers who pound out 1,000 wpm. That’s not being fair to myself, though.

I’m not a speed demon. That’s not a judgment on those who participate in Nano and do well with it. My hat’s off to the participants. But – you knew the “but” was coming, right? – that’s not me or my writing style.

I’m a thoughtful writer. I think about my sentences and my story structure and the emotional arc of my characters. I plan my setting to add to the mood of any given scene. I consider my theme and how it can be layered into my story in subtle ways through a conversation here or a description there. I can’t accomplish all of this – and well – if my focus is on reaching the challenging daily word count required to complete Nano. In fact, the crushing guilt I feel when I fail an unrealistic (for me) word count goal only makes it harder to write.

I think Nano sounds amazing on paper. I love the planning stage leading up to it. I love all the excitement people have around it. I love the sense of accomplishment so many writers have as they participate. The idea of shutting off an internal editor sounds amazing and freeing, but not for me.

Sometimes I wish I could be that faster writer who can churn a book a month, but that’s like wishing I was Julia Roberts. When I sit at my keyboard, the experience of writing isn’t just about my fingers on the keys. A lot of it happens in my heart and in my head. I need time and space to let that happen. My stories wouldn’t be my stories if I crammed them like I did studying for final exams.  So while I wish everyone participating the best of luck, NanoWriMo isn’t for me.