A friend sent me some information re the upcoming NaNoWriMo annual “challenge.”
In case you’re interested, the link is Tips for Surviving the Agony and Ecstasy of NaNoWriMo. There, I’ve done my civic duty. Now I can play a bit.
Okay, first, how about that title, eh? I mean, seriously, “The Agony and Ecstasy”? Does that evoke a picture of a poor, beleagured, suffering-for-his-art writer with one forearm flung dramatically across his forehead or what? (grin)
I’m joking. Really. I don’t knock anyone who does NaNoWriMo. I know a few writers I respect a great deal who take part every year. (One is Sam, one is Ann and one is Dawn. There are probably others, and that’s fine.)
My friend also mentioned that NaNoWriMo is very similar to WITD (Writing Into the Dark).
Well, sorry, but it isn’t. The only way it even approximates WITD is that there are words involved.
WITD practicitoners strive to write clean copy the first time through (including cycling while in creative mind). I’m not even saying WITD is “better,” but it is definitely different. These things aren’t even cousins, unless they’re very distant cousins.
NaNoWriMo participants aren’t called upon to create anything of value. They’re called upon to put down 50,000 consecutive words in a month (about 1667 words per day) with the premeditated intention of going back to “fix” it sometime in the future.
I suspect that’s because it’s loosely tied to (and therefore encourages) the harmful notion that it takes much longer than a month to write a quality 50,000 word novel. (And where’d they come up with that arbitrary 50,000 words?)
For that reason alone, I personally don’t see NaNo as a valid challenge. It’s designed to get the participants started, and then they have eleven months to “clean up” what they wrote before the next NaNo begins.
To me, that’s a lot of silly extra work. And chances are the cleanup will do more harm to the novel than good.
Still, that NaNoWriMo “gets people started” might be the one good thing about it.
Then again, what’s wrong with simply not writing if you don’t have the driving desire to write?
The answer is, Nothing.
And how much is the world harmed if people don’t write because they don’t have that driving desire?
The answer is, About as much as it’s harmed (or helped) when an actual writer finishes a novel and moves on to the next one. Not at all.
Now I DO like the goal aspect of NaNo.
But again, there’s a downside. Realistically, anyone could do the same thing in any given month.
Yeah, I know November is National Novel Writing Month (hence NaNoWriMo), but so what? It could as easily have been any of the other months. Or all of them.
I mean, what’s to keep NaNo participants from setting a goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in ANY month? Or, for that matter, EVERY month?
For example, my goal for this calendar year remains 12 finished, published novels. The difference is that I’ll write each novel cleanly the first time through, then let it go (WITD).
So why not do it in conjunction with NaNoWriMo, report my numbers, etc?
Because when I do it on my own (again, just my preference), I don’t have to hear other voices spouting nonsense about writing rough first drafts, etc. (Some — not all, but some — even advocate “free writing” during NaNo: intentionally not giving a thought to capitalization, punctuation, etc. in favor of speed.)
What would really impress me is to see someone other than Dean Wesley Smith (even me) make it through JaNoWriMo, FebNoWriMo, MarNoWriMo, ApNoWriMo, MarNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo, JulNoWriMo, AugNoWriMo, SepNoWriMo, OcNoWriMo, NovNoWriMo, and DecNoWriMo with a published novel to show for each session. 🙂
Anyway, I’ve already blown my chance at that one with no novels finished in February, March and September of this year. But my goal for next year is already set: at least one completed novel per month and fifteen on the year. (grin)
And if anyone cares to join me in any given month, just holler.
‘Til next time, happy writing!
If you’d like to see my own unfolding numbers, short stories, novels and process plus tons of writing tips, check out my Daily Journal.
And when you’re finished with NaNoWriMo (or any other time), if you need a good copyeditor, check out my Copyediting Service.