It’s November, so you probably can’t move on the Internet without brushing up against yet another NaNoWriMo post. What’s one more between friends?
I freely admit, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against it. I’ve done it since 2008 (I won in 2008 and 2010) and I think it’s a fabulous kick up the posterior to get people to shift from the “I’d love to write a book one day” camp to the “Oh my God this is so hard but wow, I’m writing a book” camp. No, I’m just struggling to manage various commitments and I don’t think I’ll have the time – I’ll still be writing, I just won’t be forcing myself to squeeze out an extra 1167 words a day. If I do, then great, but if I don’t, well that’s just fine too.
However, just because I’m not doing it myself, don’t think I won’t be fighting your corner. In fact, here is a handy list of counter-arguments you can use should anyone be dismissive about your intentions to write a novel in a month.
“NaNoWriMo just ruins publishing for everyone. All these people thinking they can write, and then flooding agents with their first efforts, deluded into thinking they’re the next JK Rowling.”
Yes, it’s true, a lot of newbies make this mistake. They send their first draft off to join the nearest slush pile, never realising that a book is not finished the moment you type “the end”. But we all learn somewhere and while yes, some of those writers who get those rejection slips may never write another word, others will see those rejection slips as a challenge to get better – and they will. If you’re really that bothered about the circulation of bad fiction then shouldn’t you be glad that the “worst” are being thus discouraged? Besides, those manuscripts will never see the light of day so how are they lowering the standard of published fiction? Even if the author self-pubs, readers are still capable of downloading samples before they buy.
“All these people are just wasting their time. Why spend all that time churning out 50,000 words that you might never use?”
Don’t people go fishing and never catch anything? Don’t they spend time at wine tastings, never able to actually drink the stuff? Don’t they spend a small fortune on antiques that never sell for whatever they paid for them? People are always investing time for no return other than enjoyment, so why can’t people write for that same reason?
“50,000 words is too short to be a real novel.”
Define “real novel” for me. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is typically considered to be a literary classic yet it’s only 27,000 words long. Yes, it’s true that most agents and publishers will prefer to see 75,000 words plus for novels aimed at adults, but remember that while the target for November is 50,000 words, there’s nothing stopping you writing well into December. If it ends up being 100,000 words, that’s fine – but just think, you might not even have written the first 50,000 if it weren’t for NaNoWriMo.
“The NaNoWriMo craze is just another bandwagon.”
Hold your horses there, pardner. The craze? You’re making it sound like some kind of whimsical fad. The first NaNoWriMo took place in 1999 – that’s twelve whole years ago. What kind of craze can you name that has lasted twelve years AND gotten progressively bigger each year? Writing about sparkly vamps with a penchant for schoolgirls was a bandwagon – NaNoWriMo is an annual writing event. Describing it in belitting terms does not diminish its impact.
“You’ll spend more time revising it than you will writing it.”
If you’re a “pantser” and you make it up as you go along then yes, this may hold true for you, but there’s nothing stopping you from outlining the novel before you begin. You can’t actually start writing those first words of chapter one until November 1st but why didn’t you spend October deciding what you were going to write about? Besides, all novels should go through a rigorous editing regime, and that’s applicable whether they were written during NaNoWriMo or not.
So there you go – a handful of arguments you can use the next time someone tells you you’re being silly for trying to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Actually, scratch that – don’t try to write a novel. As Yoda says, do or do not, there is no try. Just get it done.