It’s November, and for many people in the writing community, this means participating in NaNoWriMo (also known as National Novel Writing Month).
But not me
When you are a writer, even if you don’t do NaNoWriMo, being active in any kind of online writing community makes it impossible not to be aware of what happens in November. Twitter is ablaze with word count updates, blog posts about NaNo are everywhere, and writing forums are flooded with the bleary posts of writers up late banging out words, words, and more words.
At times, it’s enough to make one a little wistful for months that are not November.
That said, let me be clear.
I’m no NaNo hater
For the reasons I listed above, NaNoWriMo now has almost as healthy a community of detractors as it does participants. I am not a detractor, though I agree with people who find it frustrating when an unskilled first-time novelist churns out 60,000 words in November and self-publishes in December.
But that is the only way I think NanoWriMo does any harm. In most respects, I think it’s a good thing.
I have, in fact, NaNoed myself
I first heard of NaNoWriMo in 2004, and decided to give it a try. Back then I had yet to write a full length novel, so it was a great excuse to plunge right in. I did it with a friend, and ‘won.’ I participated and won three years in a row.
After that, I stopped.
I stopped with the NaNoing, that is. Not the writing.
It’s not that I turned against NaNo or the people still participating. It’s just I found I didn’t need it anymore.
NaNo was a good lesson
Partly thanks to NaNoWriMo, I no longer have a problem with production in terms of sheer volume. With well over a million words under my belt, quantity is no longer my challenge. Almost all year long, I produce a minimum of 1500 words a day. When I’m really rockin’ a project it is not at all uncommon for me to crank out 5000 words before breakfast.
The ‘sit down and write’ part of all this just isn’t hard for me anymore.
In short, NaNo taught me to write drafts
And a draft is the first step in the long, long process of writing a novel. It’s an important step, and a worthy step, and a hard step.
It’s just a bit unfortunate that some people think it’s the only step.
Currently, I’m struggling with rewriting. I have over half a million words of promising draft, all of which needs to be edited and rewritten and crafted into refined writing.
Maybe now we need NaNoReWriMo?
Doesn’t have quite the same ring, I’ll admit.
And it’s a bit harder to get excited about properly punctuating dialogue and deleting every word that ends in ‘ly.’ You couldn’t use the handy dandy word count bar quite the same way. Milestone aren’t as obvious. Keeping your momentum up is harder.
But rewriting is worth celebrating too.