Finding Something Friday Looks at NaNoWriMo (And That’s a Good Thing)

Since November 1st, I’ve found more than a few articles out there bashing National Novel Writing Month. Participants are wasting their time, writing drivel. Would-be novelists don’t want to do the hard revision work-they just want to send out NaNoWriMo-produced 50,000 words to over-worked agents and editors. A non-profit industry has sprung up from the Nano foolishness. Etc. Etc. Etc. And now I feel compelled to say a few words about that…

I’m not sure why it matters to some folks how I, or any NaNoWriMo participant, chooses to spend writing time. Maybe we’d be writing drivel whether we’re participating in a novel-writing incentive program or not. Honestly, quite a bit of what ends up on my pages starts out as drivel.

Which leads me to my second point. For me, the hard work of writing does begin with revision. But I can’t revise if I don’t have words on the page. Banging out a skeleton of a novel is a good starting point. On the other hand, some folks just want to write. Maybe they’ve got an idea in their head that needs a little fresh air. Maybe they just like a challenge. Maybe they’re writing “Mary had a little lamb” over and over and over again. SO WHAT? We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave writers, willing to risk finger cramps and butt flattening to bang out 50,000 words. I don’t care what they do with their words. That’s their business. I am kinda sorry for agents and editors who may be inundated later with very bad NaNoWriMo prose. But that’s what delete buttons are for, right?

And finally, I cannot understand how anyone could complain about an industry, non-profit or otherwise, that supports writing. Last night, when checking out the NaNoWriMo forums, I noticed that lots of the writers in my region were young. I mean, high school and college-aged young. And they’re challenging themselves to write 50,000 words? That’s AMAZING. When I was college-aged, I challenged myself, too. But um, those contests had nothing to do with words.

So, let the hackers, the would-be-novelists, and the high-school dreamers write their 50,000 (or 5,675 or 37,587) words in peace. And that, as Forrest Gump would say, is “all I have to say about that.”

11 thoughts on “Finding Something Friday Looks at NaNoWriMo (And That’s a Good Thing)

  1. Oh, do tell us how you challenged yourself in college, Cathy! ;-)I'm doing Nanowrimo and have already fallen behind. BUT, it has forced me to begin getting the skeleton of the story down. I keep reminding myself, as you say, that it's the revisions that make the story, but I can't revise until I get something down. Great post.

  2. Oh, Vicky, some fine day we'll discuss college shenanigans. But for now, YAY you!Your words, however many you manage, could be the beginning of a best-seller. Or a lovely start to a series of books. OR maybe win the SCBWI Southern Breeze writing competition next year-;-)(Glad you enjoyed my vent!)

  3. Ditto, Miss Cathy! I think I mentioned that I'm a Nano-wanna-be! Since I'd already started my memoir, a LLLLOOONNNGGGG time ago, and was kind of stumbling around and not managing my time well, I've discovered, too, that I have challenged myself to WRITE EVERY DAY!, which is not "normal" for me! so, I say YAY FOR YOU!! PS. I saw your name on a story in the Hot Flash Mommas book (or something like that!). Donna V. had one today that I just flipped through. It looks really great! Congrats again on being in it!! 🙂

  4. Hey – got this off the NaNo site:"NaNoWriMo books have borne the logos of presses such as Warner Books, Ballantine, and Berkley Books. One novel, Sarah Gruen's Flying Changes, was even a New York Times bestseller. Other published books include Rebecca Agiewich's Breakup Babe, Dave Wilson's The Mote in Andrea's Eye, and Gayle Brandeis's Self Storage."Not too shabby.

  5. Many writers have recorded that to write a book one must "show up." That's what Nanowrimo's forcing me to do each day at my computer. Show up and write. Have 12657 words. Some stories I've written before come out but in a different form. Better? Worse? I'm writing!Thanks for your insight! Cile

  6. And Lisa, that's just the ones that are reported. I'm guessing there' many more that make it!That's A LOT of words, Cile! YAY for you! Isn't it interesting the thoughts we have, once we sit down and force ourselves to show up?

  7. I'm way behind in my word count (just came back from a family trip) but I kept my mind in the novel, made notes, etc. NaNo makes me feel like I'm not alone – knowing so many others are out there also putting words on a page, creating stories, meeting characters – how in the world can that be a bad thing?

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