The NaNoWriMo bashing has begun. It usually begins in October when the NaNo season begins, but Ania Ahlborn has just found out about NaNo and is not impressed. Normally I don’t respond to these posts too seriously, but some of the arguments in this post are so laughable that I couldn’t see anyone believing them.
From her post: “I didn’t realize novel writing was such a quick and easy process.”
Novel-writing–no, creating anything–is mind-numbingly difficult. You don’t always get a flash of inspiration and bang out the entire work without stopping to think. I wish it were that easy. Even though I don’t get writer’s block often during NaNo because I’m always open to whatever comes next, I get stuck often during the rest of the year. There are days when I don’t want to write. There are days when it’s 4pm and I still haven’t written a word. There are days when I write only 100 words before goofing around on the Internet and returning to writing. There’s a reason these blog posts usually show up so late at night. I’m usually writing or doing other things during the day, and therefore the daily bit of writing in here is the last thing on my mind. This is especially the case recently, as I’m writing exactly 1667 words a day this month and discovering exactly how hard this is. Of course, the difficulty may lie in the short stories that I’m writing instead of the 1667 itself.
And sure, I may make the novel-writing process look quick, but that’s just the first draft. What isn’t as visible to the rest of the world is the editing process, which takes much more time than writing the first draft. To put this in perspective, I’m editing two novels, and I’ve already spent more time on each of them than I did on either of their first drafts. Yes, I’m a fast writer, but I’m still in the very early stages of editing, and I’m going to be spending a lot more time crafting these works to perfection over the coming months (and maybe years). One of these novels needs a complete makeover, possibly from scratch. I have a long road ahead.
From the post: “The Belief: NaNoWriMo will get me motivated.”
This is probably the most subjective belief I’ve ever heard. NaNoWriMo in itself, as much as I love it, is not necessarily the motivator. Sure, it may motivate you to think about writing that novel when you sign up, but once you get started, the idea of NaNo itself won’t push you to the finish line. The motivators are the individual elements of NaNo, which are different for each person. Some people find the deadline of NaNo a motivator. I know I did when I started, and to an extent I still do, though it’s not so much of a motivator now that I know I can beat the deadline by weeks. Others find the community to be a motivator. If other people know they’re taking on this challenge, then they have to finish. This was and still is a motivator for me. I can’t not finish NaNo now that everyone knows I do it. For someone else it may be the stickers or the promise of NaNo merchandise or anything else.
From the post: “The Belief: NaNoWriMo hands out awards, and those awards are prestigious!”
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *pantpantpant* HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Sorry, did you just say something? I’ve done NaNo since 2002, and I have yet to meet a single person who has called the NaNo icons and certificates prestigious. Methinks Ania’s pulling arguments out of her ass now.
And yes, you can cheat at NaNo. People have, most notably a certain person who took the words of other Wrimos, scrambled them up, and “created” his own novel. There’s an entire forum on the NaNo site devoted to celebrating your accomplishments, whether it’s 50,000 words or 5,000, and it has one additional rule beyond the rest of the site rules: Never call anyone a cheater, no matter their word count. It makes perfect sense. If they really are cheating, they’re not devaluing your accomplishment. But, isn’t cheating at something where the real prize is something you created completely missing the point?
I should add here that as a NaNo overachiever, I’m grateful for the additional rule. It doesn’t stop the accusations completely, of course, but it does reduce the number.
From the post: “The Belief: Once I complete NaNoWriMo, I’ll have written an entire novel that’s ready to publish! Hurray!”
Okay, I’ve encountered a few people who think their first draft is perfect. I’ve also heard the joke that December is National Query Rejecting Month because so many people send out their half-baked novels, so clearly there must be some truth to this. What Ania doesn’t understand is writing for the sake of writing. If the first draft is the throwaway draft, then having a bunch of crap in it should be perfectly fine. Sometimes you need those scenes where the character discovers the talking plant that jumps over the moon, even if it never makes it past the first draft. Not because it’s important to the plot, but because that scene helped you discover a piece of the character’s personality. It’s not self-sabotage; it’s discovery writing.
Oh, and that part about novel-writing being fun? Novel-writing is hard, but it’s as fun as you let it be. If you sit down at your desk and think, “Great, I have to write” every day, guess what? Noveling will feel like work. If you’re like me and the main thing stopping you from noveling at that moment is procrastination, then congratulations. Once you get your procrastination in stride, you’re well on your way to hammering out that novel.
P.S. Ania, you clearly haven’t heard of the 3-Day Novel Contest. Sure, I wrote a 50k novel when doing it unofficially last year, but most people were writing works about half that length. That’s a freaking novella! What say you?