So I was just on the can doing my morning business, browsing Facebook on my phone when this article popped into my news feed.
Monkeys With Typewriters & Why I Hate NaNoWriMo
Being waist deep in NaNoWriMo myself, I decided to check it out. While I respect the author's opinion of the event, I must say that I think he has the wrong perception of the event.
If you don't know what NaNoWriMo is, it's a month long call to arms to authors to produce a novel length word, of 50,000 words of more, within the 30 days of November. It's fast, it's frenetic, and yes, it's all about word count. A few of the novels that will be produced will be readable, but most will be utter shit. That's basically how ANYTHING goes if you've got a huge number of people rushing to complete something in a short amount of time.
One point that the author of the article and I agree on is that the majority of novels written in 30 days will not be good. Hell, my novel is a shaky read in most places. But the author then goes on to assume that, come December 1, participants of NaNoWriMo will stick a fork in the book and call it done, sending it away for publisher review and waiting for that 6-figure advance to come rolling in.
Any writer worth his salt knows that a first draft is not good. Even the best ideas look terrible when jotted down for the first time. My first yet-to-be-published novel took 10 revisions before I was happy with what I had left. And even that, I feel like I can go back and revise it again. I want to create the best work possible before I put it in front of an audience.
So why does he assume that everyone who partakes in NaNoWriMo will finish on November 30? I love my novel so far; I love the idea that I had, the characters that I've molded, and the situations I've created for them. But once I hit that 50,000 word mark, I know I'm not done. I know that I need to go in there and tighten up my language, word tense, and character development.
That's how books get written.
When you build a house, you first need to lay the foundation. Then you need to erect the framework. Then you hammer in the sheet rock, build the walls, install windows, and on and on. Novel writing is no different. NaNoWriMo is a great way to encourage writers to lay that foundation, to get them started on the road to being a novel writer. Will many writers feel they're finished by the end of November? Yes, but they'll soon realize that they aren't writers. Will a lot of writers not have the persistence to go back and revise their work? Yep, but again, it weeds out the wannabes with no passion. Will some writers actually work with their book until they can finally be proud of what they've produced? Yes, without a doubt.
To take an analogy from the writer of that author, no, pressure does not always lead to creating a diamond. However, NaNoWriMo isn't about creating diamonds. November is used to find that crusty, ugly gem that no one would dream of putting into a wedding ring. THAT'S what November is for. But once you have that gem, it will still need to be cut and polished and made beautiful, something that can be admired by everyone else. Not everyone participating in NaNoWriMo will actually do this, but to those that do, it's a great time.