Monday, October 5, 2009

Worth Doing Badly: NaNoWriMo

Just so you know in advance, every post I do from now into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) will be a goad to suck you into doing it too. Don't say you weren't warned.

Before you read the rest of this post, read this:

Robyn made some excellent points which immediately caused me to jump to several conclusions of my own. She said that she had heard it argued that some things worth doing were also worth doing badly as opposed to not doing them at all. Her point was that you could mop the floor quickly with less than perfection rather than not at all and give the extra time to bettering your writing. But I submit to you that writing poorly is also worth doing.

Enter: NaNoWriMo

Of the 50,000 words you produce in that month, and I'm speaking in faith that you will indeed succumb to my personal brand of peer pressure and participate, there probably won't be one inspired literary word in the lot. But the beauty of it is that you DO it. Driven by nothing more than a deadline, you actually WRITE a novel instead of just THINKING about it or PLANNING to do it. Also driven by a deadline, you abandon all ideas of perfection along the wayside and write a dreadful first draft. You'll be in good company with about 250,000 other writers or more doing the same. First drafts are like seed sown. You can't get the harvest without them.

In other words, it is so worth it for you to exercise your right to write a novel, even if you do it badly. There are hundreds of thousands of people in history that would have given anything to have that kind of freedom that we so casually pass off. Heaven forbid that we eventually lose that freedom in the USA, but it's possible.

Reasons to be a NaNoWriMo Writer:
• Because you like to write.
• Because you don't like to write.
• Because you have the freedom to.
• Because you have an obligation to capture your personal voice and ideas on paper in a way that no one else ever can.

In case you're thinking that you don't have time, it'll take you about 55 hours total if you're an average typist. Spread out during a month, that's not too bad. You'll even have a few free evenings here and there. If you do it like one writer, you'll get the first 12,000 words done in the first week, and the last 38,000 done in the final three days, plugging in the last at one minute before midnight on the 30th.

In conclusion, I think only real value of NaNoWriMo is the accountability that transforms an otherwise procrastination-laden individual into a writing machine for one month. Doesn't that sound like fun?


  1. As a confirmed procrastinator, (just ask my wife) um.... no.

  2. Okay Beth, I can't believe I am saying this... I'LL DO IT. Did I really just type in those words???

    I have no idea what to write yet, but I still have just under a month to ponder ideas.

    Maybe you won't read this and I can still change my mind, UGGGG!

    Just how many words do I have to write in a day?

  3. You have made the right decision. The biggest benefit of NaNoWriMo is to stop the internal editor when you don't have anything to edit. At the end of the month, you have permission to turn it back on and begin to work on the manuscript you have created.

    By the way, you WILL be sorry you said yes somewhere around week two. No matter what, keep plugging away, because when week three dawns you'll feel MUCH better.

  4. I actually think it will be fun. The pressure will be off to make it perfect, and on to just enjoy it!

  5. Perfection is the enemy (just for now). Typing speed is your friend.

  6. Typing Speed? Is he any relation to Speed Racer? How good of a friend is he? Does he know how to spell? Is he an accurate typist? I want to know Anne.

  7. So I went to the NANOWRIMO site and watched the video. Wow, with compelling film skills like that, how could I say no? What I want to know is, if I sign up, does this mean that for our meetings in November, all we do is write?

  8. We should discuss that Laura. Beth suggested excusing herself from the meeting to write, but if we're all doing it, maybe we could meet and write. We could even do it at one of our homes, have a "Write Night". That would be fun!