C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

NaNoWriMo isn’t bad. You are.

One neurotic fellow worried, in public, about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) 

Worry 1

“If it goes really well, I’d be embarrassed to admit the published book started with NaNoWriMo.”

Yes, this was actually a concern. That sounds silly to me, but putting aside the snobby subtext, let’s answer that. More than 100 published novels have emerged from NaNoWriMo beginnings and I’m sure the authors are grateful for the kick start NaNo supplied. If you need a kick in the pants, NaNoWriMo can help make a solitary pursuit feel more gentle with the support of an enthusiastic community. Whatever helps you get past the time management hump and into actually writing is peachy with me. Starting is hard.

I’m working on a novel that emerged from a short story in Murders Among Dead Trees. That happens a lot. Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus were born from a short story in Self-help for Stoners.

Book ideas come from lots of places. We shouldn’t be embarrassed about process. Instead, embrace what works for you. Otherwise, you get lost chasing your tail. If you must be embarrassed about something, worry about how much autobiographical source material you’re using from that series of bad decisions you made in Vegas.

Or, how about this answer? Don’t be a poo.

Worry 2

“The problem with NaNoWriMo is people think they’ll have a novel at the end of it.”

No, they don’t. NaNoWriMo has warned about this syndrome from the beginning. Most people write to join in the fun and to share support they have no other month of the year. Most people know what these moralizing purists refuse to acknowledge: 

A. Non-writers, novices and aspiring writers are often (oh my Thor!) just as smart as any purist.

B. Writing is the opposite of rocket science. It’s an associative process of making neural connections in new ways that expresses a basic human capacity for creativity. There are good writers and unskilled writers, but ignorance does not equal stupidity. Take the Art seriously, sure, but writers should not take themselves so seriously. It’s supposed to be fun and engaging and many people can do it.

C. Critics of NaNo poop on the participants and say they’re wasting their time. Are all the hobbyist painters wasting their time, too? It’s their time to enjoy wasting. Stop being nasty to NaNoWriMo. You don’t sound noble and professional. You sound insecure about competition from upstarts who dare to pick up a pen, just like you must have done once. 

D. We all know this is just a quick, first draft that will later be expanded, rewritten, pummelled and edited. In most cases, it won’t be submitted or published anywhere, ever. It’s just a start, a challenge, an experiment. Its value is that you can’t edit and improve what isn’t on the page.

This straw man is trotted out for burning each November when oh-so-serious people who write in one way (i.e. like they’re constipated and too fascinated with their leavings) insist that everybody have the same process.*

Yes, some people refuse to acknowledge that their first draft is not great. I’m sure there are even a few people who fire off their first draft of 50,001 words to an agent. But so many people participate in NaNoWriMo, there are bound to be a few novices too sure of their greatness who refuse to follow instructions.

Let’s stop being mean, have a laugh and have a go if you want.

The first time I attempted NaNoWriMo, I didn’t make it to 50,000 words and I was left with a partial manuscript I didn’t like. The second time, I did complete the challenge. Now I don’t do NaNoWriMo because I write no matter what, at least 2,000 words a day. Nothing against NaNo. It’s simply that participating fully would add a stovepipe to my outhouse and the days are short.

Now, on to more troubling questions:

What’s with all the toilet analogies, Chazz?

*This post is based on actual objections to NaNoWriMo. Not all critics of NaNoWriMo deserve the thrashing I’m pointing at one particular critic. If it’s simply not for you, that’s peachy, too. In defence of NaNo, I wrote the inspired imagery with the word “constipated” in it the first time, without revising a word.

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Filed under: NanNoWriMo, Writers, writing tips, , , , , ,

4 Responses

  1. I’ve got 4 incredibly raw, rough drafts all over 50k words written since 2010. All done in nanoland. If I ever got one to a state where it could be published would I be embarrassed? Shocked and amazed are words that come to mind far more than embarrassed.
    I wanted to see if I had a book in me. I now know that I have many, but I also know how much work’s involved in getting one to a point where someone could read it.
    I’ve worked out how I like to write, I had tons of fun, laughter and met amazing people along the way, what’s embarrassing about that?
    ps to get thru the month I do a mini edit at the end of each day of writing so yes, I did a mini,rough and quick edit on this..

  2. […] NaNoWriMo isn’t bad. You are. (chazzwrites.com) […]

  3. writejomichaels says:

    I read some of the same things. Participation isn’t only about getting you to write, it’s about the awesome prizes NaNo gives to winners. Do I write 4-6k words a day anyway? Yeah, I do. But I want those four free print copies of my book from CreateSpace for winning 😉 Hell to the yes! And being able to check on others and know I’m contributing to something that may help a novice write their first novel makes me smile. If people who once participated stop, NaNoWriMo may go away and not return. They need participants to make it work.

    To those who say NaNo is a waste of time, I have to ask: Is it that you’re afraid you can’t do it or can you not work under outside pressure? Water for Elephants was a NaNo novel. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, haters! 😛 hehe

    Thanks for the defense of NaNo, Chazz.

    WRITE ON!

  4. […] NaNoWriMo isn’t bad. You are. (chazzwrites.com) […]

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