When I was a boy… Ok, I’m kidding. But, when I started writing this post, it occurred to me that it was that kind of story. Anyway, back when I first heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated) in 2006, it was still in its fledgling state (launched in 1999, it was still fairly small back then). I heard about it and jumped on board with a ton of enthusiasm, as most do at first. Then I realized just how hard the task is. 1666 words a day for 30 days during the month of November. Yeah. It’s no small task. I won once… and that was working at breakneck speed to crank out 20,000 words in the last week alone.
Nowadays, NaNo has grown in notoriety. This year, according to the website, more than 400,000 writers will participate. And, with the enthusiasm comes the naysayers.
“You shouldn’t be trying to write a novel that quickly.”
“What good can it be in that short a time?”
“It’s a gimmick and real writers would never participate.”
I disagree for the most part with all of the naysayers. Anything that gets people to write is a good thing in my book (pun intended). Is this a pace you should keep up? Sure! If you can! I’d love to be able to crank out 1666 a day! Especially at the first-draft stage, which is what NaNo is really all about. You’re goal isn’t to write a polished/finished novel in a month. You’re cranking out 50,000 words of a first draft. You’re putting words to paper with the expectation that what you’re creating will need significant revisions… in December… and January… and February. First drafts are supposed to be crap! But, how great will it be to have a completed (or near completed) first draft at the end of the month!?
So, if you’re taking part, good luck. Have fun. Bond with your fellow WriMos. Learn as much as you can about your writing and the writing process. Crank out the best crappy first draft you possibly can. Keep your expectations low. Put words on the page and don’t worry about revising. There’ll be plenty of time for that.
Not taking part? Do your writer friends who are participating a favor. Don’t mock their intentions. Cheer them on! Let their milestones fuel your own writing endeavors. Be happy that they are writing! Will their NaNoWriMo book become a novel? Who knows? In today’s age of self-publishing, I’d never dare to say no. With the right editing, anyone can publish their work. Don’t rain on anyone’s parade.
As a last point, rushing to write a novel may be fun, but it shouldn’t make you think that you can rush the important parts. Revision, editing, proofing, beta reading, more revision, etc. Use NaNo to get the foundation, but don’t slap up paper walls and call it a house. 😉
Have you done NaNoWriMo in the past? What’s you best advice for finishing? Let us know in the comments section and thanks for stopping by.