I’ve been reading some blogs that have said, in various ways, that NaNoWriMo encourages bad writing. And they’d be right. However, it’s perfectly fine. And I’m going to tell you why.
National Novel Writing Month does not encourage the writing of a publishable novel in a month. It never has. That would be insane.
- It would be insane. This deserves to be repeated. I’m pretty sure that even the most seasoned writer would have trouble coming up with anything more than a first draft in a month. There are exceptions to any rule, but the majority of authors have lives outside of writing just like any other human being who has a job.
- No one in their right mind thinks that a first draft is publishable. Well, maybe some fan fiction authors. Anyway, see number one. If someone does actually try to submit what they wrote during NaNo to a publisher without editing, they’re in for a rude awakening. I’m pretty sure no one has any illusions as to the quality of their work coming directly out of the month.
- 50,000 words is rarely enough for anything but young adult fiction. Adult fiction tends to be longer if it isn’t in the romance or mystery genres, and young adult fiction is breaking the short book mold more and more. I mean sometimes it’s to excellent effect and sometimes the result is mediocre, but that’s true with everything.
- People are encouraged to write however they damn well please, whether that be working on one project or a number of projects, and as long as they meet the word goal they win. Just completely ignore the word ‘novel’ in the title. It’s really only meant to give an idea of the scope of the writing, not that an actual novel has to be completed. You’re writing enough words that it could, if it was good enough and not complete dreck, be a novel. That’s the accomplishment.
- It’s meant to give people a concrete, but not insane, goal. 50,000 words in a month isn’t really that insane. Seeing the goal and watching themselves meeting it is exciting and makes people want to write. Sometimes I wish that it was all about setting your own word goal, but I think that 50,000 words is a challenge that most people can do if they put their minds to it.
- NaNoWriMo allows people to do this at the same time, building relationships between writers and an encouraging community. Sure, the community could do with a lot more constructive criticism and a lot less meaningless back-patting, but it’s not that hard to find the type of community you need. There are plenty of people who do it for fun, but there are also plenty of people who do it very seriously every year. Ignore the people who aren’t doing your particular flavor of NaNo and just fucking write already.
- People being ridiculous hurts no one. It’s funny. Taking yourself too seriously as a writer is likely to stifle your creativity. Live a little. Write badly. It’s really the only way to learn to write well.
- There is absolutely, positively nothing wrong with failing. Don’t make word count? Who the hell cares, you wrote ALL MONTH LONG. Good job. You get a gold star anyway. It’s not the winning that’s important, really, it’s the doing it.
So here’s the bottom line: NaNoWriMo does more good for writers than bad. Quit focusing on the ‘novel’ part of the title and, instead, focus on the ‘writing’ part. Once you’ve done so, feel free to go be negative somewhere else. Lots of young people do NaNoWriMo. Let’s not discourage our young people from writing, even if they do it badly.