I’m not going to lie to you. Doing a NaNoWriMo* doesn’t make you a novelist. Yes, it’s a great thing to do and they have a wonderful supportive group. But it will take so much more than writing a 50.000 words of fiction in November to be a real novelist. With the same speed as NaNoWriMo, it will take you another month (or two) to finish a novel (which usually between 80.000-120.000 words). Then comes the most important part: rewriting, revising, and a whole lot of editing before your novel could even make it to see the light of day.
In my experience, writing 50.000 words in a month is not that difficult. I would even agree to what Chris Baty said: “No Plot, No Problem”. The real problem comes when you’re trying to make your novel appeals to other people, or even to yourself (after you’ve gotten over the “I’m so great I finished writing my first novel” phase). The less time you’re allowing yourself to plot, the more time you’ll spend fixing the plot. The faster you write, the longer you need to revise. (Maybe you disagree with me, and that’s okay. I’m just someone who wrote so much crap of the first draft.)
So, why do I still bother doing NaNoWriMo?
- Writing is always a solitary journey, so when you have a chance to share it with some friends, it’s very precious. The great thing about this compared to other gatherings is: everyone is at the same phase as you are. Before 1st November, everyone is planning out the idea. At the beginning of November, everyone is starting their novel. This means everyone has kind of the same type of problem at the same time. How to start a novel, how to make a conflict more interesting, and how to make a great ending. Most importantly you have people to keep you motivated and cheered you on.
- As a writer you must have had a million idea swarming in your head. NaNoWriMo is the perfect tool to purge one out. Not sure if it’s your genre? Just try, if it failed, you’re only wasting a month. Not sure how a plot would turn out? Just write it down. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, you can still count the words to the word count.
- Turning off the inner editor. You’re strapped for time. You don’t have time to worry about coherent sentences. Just write. If you still can’t turn it off, do a word war** with your writing buddy.
- You’re allowed to write crap. It’s kind of the same with number three. But this is very important. Give yourself the permission to write badly. It’s ok. In the end you’ll end up throwing out 90% of it anyways.
- You’ll have a sense of accomplishment. Trust me, if you have a chance to pat yourself on the back, do it. They even give you a badge and some winner goodies! Also, people who are not novelist would still look at you in awe.
- You have an excuse to slack off on (at least) some things (possibly boring houseworks). Just focusing on the things you love to do: writing your adorable characters (or minions) doing your (evil) biddings.
- Practice makes perfect. Sometimes I don’t believe this either, because some days I felt like what I wrote now isn’t better than what I wrote last year. But I guess they do, eventually. Just sometimes the changes aren’t that visible (like boiling water, you don’t feel so much difference with the heat after a certain point, and you could finally see it when it boils!).
I think I have convinced myself enough to do it again this year. Despite it’s my 7th year. Despite none of my NaNoWriMo novels ever making it to the published world. I just know I am learning something new every year, trusting on the fact that I (should) get better every year, and I’ll have a great time hanging out with my fellow NaNoWriMo-ers (veterans!).
Are you convinced? Are you joining in this year? Let me know in the comments, drop me a line in twitter (@astridparamita) or add me as a buddy in NaNoWriMo (param1ta).