There are plenty of reasons why someone shouldn’t participate in NaNoWriMo! They hate writing. They hate November. They hate books. (If you hate all three of these things, I’m probably scared of you.) But when I talk about NaNo with my writer friends, there’s one thing a lot of them always say:
“I’d love to, but I don’t think I’d be able to win this year because school/work/family/I’m not the type of person who can hit 50k in a month.”
To which I say NOOOOO in proper dramatic drop-to-my-knees-at-the-climax-of-the-movie fashion.
Let’s talk first about how awesome NaNo is. At this point I feel like most of us take it for granted, so I want to bring up the fact that there is a WHOLE MONTH which THOUSANDS of people devote to writing a book. It’s practically a holiday. Some of these people are people who don’t usually write, who say “screw it I’m writing a book because it’s NaNo.” Like, what? This is an event that gets people to try writing a BOOK. That’s crazy! And it works! It’s hugely popular!
Some agents are probably disillusioned by the whole thing due to all the queries flying in their faces come December, but hell, we’re not agents. We’re WRITERS. *fires T-shirt gun into the bleachers* It’s an event that celebrates us, and what we do, and the sense of writerly community increases 10x during the month of NaNo as all these writers – and this is the great thing, it’s not just for ~published~ writers, or ~agented~ writers, it’s for ALL writers and it’s an equalizer – do the writing thing at the same time.
Anyway. I like NaNo. It’s the one month a year that brings tons of writers from different levels and backgrounds together, holding hands and singing round the Chrismas tree, Whoville style. (Or rather, singing round the coffee tree. Whatever works. Are there coffee trees?)
So here are my favorite (and in my opinion, the best) things about NaNo:
1. The sense of community – meeting people outside your usual writer circle. Or meeting writers in general if you don’t have a writer circle.
2. It’s fun! It’s the prom of writing. It makes me feel like writing is cool and hip and not something weirdos do in the basement.
3. It’s a great motivator – it can be an excuse to start the novel you’ve been putting off.
4. It can get you into the mode of writing daily or more often, establishing good work patterns.
So is there anything BAD about NaNo? (Other than the query deluge for agents.) I would argue, well, yeah.
1. Some people just can’t hit 50k in November.
And that’s fine. Like I said, some of us writers have kids. We have classes. Some of us have day jobs – well, okay, almost all of us probably have day jobs. And some of us are just better and happier writers when we go at our own pace, and that pace might be 20k a month, not 50k.
But there’s a culture of “winning” around NaNo that can make it feel like you shouldn’t participate if you know you won’t be able to hit that 50k mark, or if you want to work on a novel you already have instead of starting a new one, or if you want to use it for revisions or a book of poetry.
And that’s lame.
There’s not necessarily anything wrong with people being happy at the fact that they won (you guys are amazing!) and people laughing good-naturedly about the fact that they got nowhere near 50k. But I would argue that the best things NaNo has to offer aren’t just about ending up with 50k words. And it bums me out that some writers would miss out on those things because the 50k goal doesn’t mesh with their personal lives.
So, here is my plea to you: If you want to do NaNo, and the ONLY reason you’re holding back is because you think you won’t be able to hit 50k, go for it anyway! It’s okay if you don’t hit 50k! It doesn’t matter! NaNo is for writers, and YOU are a writer, and you deserve the fun whether you can write 300 words in a month, 50k, or 200k.
Now here is a picture of a delicious grilled cheese sandwich as a thank you for reading my long post.