I know plenty of people argue about whether NaNoWriMo is helpful or harmful to writers, but I can’t help thinking that anything that makes us sit down and actually put words on a page is great. I love the creative, competitive atmosphere fostered by the event and the fact that unites people with similar passions.
For those of you who don’t know exactly what NaNoWriMo is, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month. NaNo is an event held in November of every year where writers all over the world commit to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. The idea is to write a novel that you start working on in November.
(Tip: While NaNo is about writing novels, you can write anything you want. There’s a group called Rebels that do this every year, so don’t be afraid to try it with something else, too! You can also choose different goals if you want to commit to more or less. You can also work on an older project if you really want to, like a rewrite.)
In all fairness, NaNo gets tons of criticism, and, sure, some of it’s valid, but it doesn’t concern me. Am I bothered that most NaNoers don’t get serious about their writing? Nope, they learn about writing and have fun doing it. What about the fact that most will never be published? How is that different from any other novel written at any other time? Besides, some do get published, and some of those published books are pretty big. Ever heard of The Night Circus? How about the idea that fast writing can equal sloppy writing? Every draft is sloppy. Might as well get it done fast and spend time editing later. You’ll have to edit it all anyway.
All I care about is that NaNo gives people a reason to sit down and write. It gives them a deadline, even if it’s ultimately meaningless. It gives them a goal, even if 50,000 words isn’t the right length for a novel. Lots of NaNoers have never written that much before in their lives or written with so much consistency.
I support NaNo because it gives people a reason to try something new and difficult. It gives writers a reason to keep going. It helps people actually work towards their dreams. It helps writers build writing habits.
Sure, you can do all of this any other time, too, but there’s something about the community and the frenzy of writing so much in a month that makes NaNo exciting. The best part of Nano is the community.
It does so much good for writers while fostering a supportive environment that encourages sharing with, commiserating with, venting to, and helping other writers. Actually, people are able to accomplish the above because of the community fostered on the NaNo site. We tend to be a lonely bunch, and I love that there is an event that encourages writers to reach out to others. It creates bonds from similar experiences.
Who cares if what NaNoers write is a sloppy mess? I’m betting that most novels that weren’t written in a month-long period are sloppy messes, too. NaNo is about ignoring the mess. NaNo is fast, so it makes you get ideas down on the page without worrying, and at the end of the month, you have something to show for your diligence. Sure, it won’t be ready to go out into the world. It probably won’t be a finished draft. It will be ugly. It will be confusing. What first draft isn’t? Still, writing 50,000 words in a month is an impressive feat, and you have something to work with at the end.
I’m all for NaNo and the benefits it brings writers, which is why I’m happy to announce that I will participate in my third NaNoWriMo this year. I’m so excited that we’re less than a month away, and I’m working hard to plan my novel. In honor of the event, I’m going to be posting some helpful guides and resources over the next few weeks to help you prepare for NaNo and have a successful month of writing.
If you’ve never done NaNoWriMo, don’t know what it is, or are considering doing it this year, check out the site. Even if you decide NaNo isn’t for you, I encourage you to try it at least once. It’s an exhilarating experience. Plus, if you’re serious about your writing you won’t regret setting goals for your novel and working hard to achieve them.
So start planning now and commit to making an ugly, sloppy, messy, beautiful draft of your own in November.
Do you have any resources you want to see? Any thoughts about NaNo? Share them in the comments.