It’s that time of the year again.
The air is cool, the fall winds are blowing, the leaves are changing colors, everything is inexplicably pumpkin spiced and it’s time for writers to unite in one giant writing event. Just in case you didn’t know its National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The idea of this is to encourage writers of all levels into either writing or completing a novel (or lengthy work) that they are either working on or just dreamed of starting.
National Novel Writing Month gives newer writers the ability to connect and learn from more experienced (professional) writers. There are local versions of this so someone can connect with other writers near them in their genre and help each other along the way. I think it is a great and wonderful thing, especially for aspiring writers (I actually hate that phrase) and for kids in K-12. I am all about anything that encourages kids to write and express their creativity since it’s being destroyed by the US educational system.
( I encourage you to listen to the whole thing)
Despite my support of NaNoWriMo, I won’t be having anything to do with it this year.
Well, there are several reasons for it really but the biggest is that I don’t like writing on a schedule. I also don’t like having to constantly update my pace and where I am on the site. I might go a week and not write anything regardless of NaNoWriMo. The next week though I might write 3-6,000 words on three different days of the week. My pace is my own. It all depends on my mood, my real life schedule and how inspired I feel to write. I would love to say I write something every day and perhaps in some way, I do, but it’s not necessarily part of a novel or even a story nor will it ever be just that.
Another reason is that I don’t like the emails nagging me about what I have done or not done and what others are doing. I haven’t found the ability to connect with other local writers about their projects or mine particularly useful or helpful either. However, I have talked to a few younger kids about it who have taken part or are and they were much more social about it. Maybe it’s an age thing I don’t know, but I don’t find anything beneficial about networking with 16 years olds.
I took part in NaNoWriMo in 2013 religiously, was a good boy about it, and wrote a novella, which I never published. In 2014, I somewhat half-assed it and never even finished the novel I was working on for the event because…well, I ended up hating it. I ended up starting or rather re-starting what ended up being my 2nd and soon to be released novel All the Roads Home and it had nothing to do with NaNoWriMo.
I suppose I also think the idea of writing a novel of even marginal quality, even a rough draft of 55,000 words or more (that is the general minimum word count for an actual novel BTW) in 30 days is quite absurd. Maybe that makes me a bad author, writer, or mentor but it is what it is.
I’m not saying a novel CAN’T be written in 30 days…I’m asking SHOULD a novel be written in 30 days.
I wonder if you were to poll the current top 10 NYT best-selling authors (Patterson, Grisham, Morton, and George Martin among them) and see how many of them wrote their current best sellers in 30 days how many would say yes? I don’t think very many. I know George won’t. I also wonder how many other serious and somewhat successful authors write the first draft of their manuscript in 30 days. I’d guess not as many as you would think.
So it behooves me to ask this question: Why are young and new writers being pushed and encouraged to produce something in 30 days that seasoned writing veterans do not do?
I think putting an author, especially an aspiring author up and coming author on that tight and restrictive of a schedule is prohibitive. What if someone gets 20,000 words in and realizes they do not like it and it’s the 15th of the month? Then they feel pressured into not only finishing but starting from scratch with 15 more days left in the month. Writing is stressful enough sometimes and we have a whole generation of kids whose parents never allowed them to learn to handle stressful situations.
I also wonder how many authors participate in NaNoWriMo in order to be noticed and have good PR in certain writing circles and online. Ya know cuz it looks good I guess. Since its #able they use it. Almost like they are expecting to get a pat on the back for taking part in another writing trend. I say this because I’ve seen some well known Indies authors work NaNoWriMo into their social marketing which to me, bastardizes the whole thing. On the other hand, me writing about it in this post and on this blog which is part of my author platform does the same thing probably so its a lose lose I guess.
If you are an author, a serious author and plan to make a go at doing it for the long run do you, do we and should we really need something like NaNoWriMo so our books are actually written? I don’t. Perhaps I’m minimizing the whole thing though.