Yes, You Should Bother with NaNoWriMo

In response to the article: Should I Bother With NaNoWriMo?

I think it is important to understand that NaNoWriMo is not how you get a high-quality, publish-ready novel (though if you can do that, power to you). It was created as a way to write 50K words of beautiful chaos without your ‘inner editor’ holding you back. NaNo is designed to encourage someone to accomplish a novel that they never thought they could write. It’s intended to get you writing.

The novel produced out of NaNo is not a finished product. That does not mean it isn’t a book. What you do with those 50K words is up to you. You can celebrate, edit, burn, archive, or do whatever else you want to do with those words (I strongly suggest never deleting). And if you still don’t think 50K words are a novel, here’s a list of famous novels that hold that word count.

I attempted NaNo before November last year, just to see if I could do it. What I created was absolute garbage — but that garbage is mine, and it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever created. That word document is hidden about 30 folders deep, never to see the light of day again, but it gave me the momentum to write that story again and again until I had something I loved.

I don’t “claim” to have succeeded during NaNo. I HAVE succeeded, and so have many others. Am I a famous author now? Are people clawing to sign me to a book deal? Absolutely not. Do I care? Not at all. Does that mean I’m not a writer? Of course not.

Just because the NaNo route is different than what “real authors” work on for years does not invalidate what we have done. I’m proud of myself and everyone who has taken on the challenge of NaNo, regardless of what happens after. Even those who started NaNo and didn’t finish should be proud. You took on a challenge that is, by all definitions, completely crazy. You came into the month without a book concept and walked away with something.

Just so everyone knows, I completed two and a half NaNo books (one prior to November at 53K, one in the first half of November at 84K, and started a third toward the end of November because I had momentum). I’m not bragging, I just want you to know it’s possible. This coming from someone who has an academic background but no creative writing experience.

If you think you have to give up your life to do this, you don’t. I was recruiting out of town for three days at a time, coaching softball at the collegiate level, finishing an MSIS degree, and still had a social life.

Please don’t let anyone discourage you or tell you that it’s not possible. Even if you take longer than the month to write it, just write your novel. Write the garbage. Fix it later if you want. Be proud of what you can do, from word one to 50K.

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