Is NaNoWriMo a good idea?

     I’m writing this from the assumption that you know what NaNoWriMo is. If you don’t, here’s the official FAQ – knock yourself out. 🙂

     Now, I’ve heard a lot of opinions about NaNo. Some people think it’s awful and needs to be shut down (or at least “phased out”), and some people think it’s great; some people think it brings the wrong sort of people into writing – the “casuals”, if you will – while others believe there’s no such thing.

     Personally, I like NaNo, but I understand why others don’t.

     Let me explain.

     I pounded out roughly 60% of the first draft of LA BASTARDA during NaNoWrMo 2014.  It was a story I’d had inside of me for quite a while, but every time I’d try to start it, I’d end up in this simple panic of, “Oh god, what am I doing, I’m not a real writer, I can’t do this!”  And so I’d close the document and promise myself I’d try again later.  With NaNo, I was required to sit down and actually write, regardless of how I felt about it.  No excuses.

     And so, for getting that first draft out, I love NaNo.  I actually plan on doing NaNo to help me with Book 2 (since I’m noticing the same thing happening), and I’m sure I’ll end up doing it for every other book I plan to write.

     Now, some people would say that I shouldn’t write if I can’t force myself to sit down and do it without motivation.  Some people would ask if I’m just not “author material”, and I respect their opinion.  Writing makes me happy, though.  I love when the words seemingly fly from my fingers, I love having that moment of “What was THAT?”  Sometimes I just need a push, though; sometimes I think my muse goes on a bender and ends up having a week-long hangover.  I love what I do, and I always will, and it comes easily to me 95% of the time, but not always.

     Other people dislike the complete crap that tends to come from NaNo.  The whole point of NaNo is to just write and edit afterward, but there are always those who think they’re the next JKR or writing’s version of Da Vinci, and send out their unedited manuscripts on December 1st.  Agents are flooded with that stuff, and it makes them look down on NaNo and other writing challenges.  As such, we try to distance ourselves from “the plebs”, but actions like those make people look down on NaNoWriMo, and with good reason, even though all it does is hurt writers and more by ruining our community.

     It’s always best to edit.  I know it’s hard to look at something you’ve poured your heart and soul into, only to realize that it really isn’t as great as it seems.  I know it’s hard to look at editing services and go, “Oh gosh, that’s expensive!”  While I once hated making any sort of changes to my document, I’m now a huge proponent of self-editing, and I actually perused a ton of articles and/or pinterest pins just to make sure I was doing it correctly.  My favorites were:

     In short, EDIT ALL THE THINGS.  Even if you don’t think your MS needs it, don’t touch it for a couple of months and then DO IT ANYWAY.

     So yes, I get why people hate NaNo, but it makes me sad that some are so vehemently against it when it really does have its purpose.  I guess it really does show that one bad apple can spoil the bunch.  😦

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2 thoughts on “Is NaNoWriMo a good idea?

  1. Jazz musicians in the bebop era were notorious for disparaging amateurs and those whose skills didn’t measure up. Thanks to their gatekeeping, jazz is super popular, more than it ever has been. Oh, wait…

    In less kind terms, anyone who looks down on something that encourages more people to try and express themselves creatively, and those making the attempt, is a crappy person.

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    • Agreed, but I definitely believe NaNo (or anything like it, where you write the First/Rough Draft) should be just the beginning of the creative process. There are enough people who don’t quite get that, jump straight from beginning to end, and their lack of “middle” is enough to seriously color outside opinions. It’s bad enough that my query-buddy actually asked me, prior to reading it, if I wrote my book in NaNo, and when I said yes, told me to cut all mentions of it, November, if I wrote the first draft book in X days, etc. Apparently, NaNo really is that frowned upon. And it sucks, because like I said, I love it. I think it’s great. I would have never actually sat down and written my book if it hadn’t been for NaNoWriMo. It’s sad.

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