My answer is always another question. When was the last time you finished a first draft of a book? If you can say you finished one within the last couple of years, then I want to know how long did it take you to finish the first draft? Two, three, (expletive deletive here) eight to ten years?
There are a lot of reasons why it’s easier for me to write my first draft during Nanowrimo. The first reason is that it helps me battle my procrastination. It’s also a game. Can I master myself enough to write everyday? If I do, I try to update my Nanowrimo count every day.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt lonely when I’m writing. I have missed talking about writing with other writers though. I go to the conferences for the chit-chat as much as I do to see if there are any agents I like or to learn new techniques. Even if you don’t go to any Nanowrimo write-ins, you’re still joining a group of fellow writers and you can chit-chat in the forums.
Most people that I know actually finish the first draft after Nanowrimo because 50,000 words is not really enough for most types of books. The total immersion in the writing during November does make it easier to keep going into December and then you have a new book to edit for the next year. If you get into this type of writing calendar, you will have overlapping “book” years. The book that I’m almost done editing is from 2007 and this is not the first time I’ve done a complete edit of this book, this is the fourth edit. After I’m done with a major revision and I think I’ve cleaned it up as much as I can, I’ll send it out to see how it goes or maybe take it to a conference. But I imagine this is the last major revision I will do of the book unless one is requested by an agent or an editor.
The book I have from 2008 has been through some editing but has not really seen the light of day yet, I’ve only showed a few pages to a couple of agents once to see if they thought publishers might be interested. I plan on sending it out for the first time in early 2012. The response will tell me how much more editing I’ll need to do. I have another one from 2009 that is a follow-up to 2008 so it will be interesting to see how the 2008 will do. I ended up deciding not to do Nanowrimo last year because I was getting too far behind on the editing part of the cycle.
Having some deadlines and plans are the major reason I think Nanowrimo is so great. Don’t forget the way it changes your writing habits. Nothing makes you improve more than writing every day! It’s also a lot easier to keep the same tone and plot going if what you’ve written already is still fresh in your mind.