Is NaNoWriMo a good thing?

My answer: Sure.

I don’t have to explain why I think so because Patricia Wrede captures why NaNoWriMo is a good thing in this post right here.

The value of NaNoWriMo isn’t in the amount of great literature it encourages; it’s in getting people past some of the really basic process problems that prevent so many of them from sitting down and doing it. A lot of these are problems with confidence or with overthinking the process of writing—everything has to be perfect; it’s perfectly reasonable to spend an entire day deciding to add a comma, and the entire following day deciding to remove it; the first draft has to be perfect; the outline has to be perfect; the writer has to chase down and develop every interesting new character and/or subplot the minute it occurs to them; none of the writing will be any good if it isn’t “inspired”; the writer isn’t good enough to even try writing a novel (though how they think they’re going to get good enough without ever writing anything is beyond me).

That is the perfect way to express why NaNoWriMo is a great idea. I completely agree that fear of not doing it right is a big reason a lot of people hesitate to start writing, which of course is one reason I am so mistrustful of the whole idea of writing advice and so against aspiring writers looking for, asking for, or reading a lot of advice about writing. I think the constant deluge of advice makes it harder, not easier, to write; and I really strongly suspect that a lot of people would have a much easier time and also write better if they would quit asking for advice and look at actual books to see how certain techniques are used effectively in practice.

Patricia Wrede then goes on:

Because of all this, I generally advise doubters to go ahead and try, provided that a) they are pretty sure they are not the sort of writer who is going to be devastated and/or convinced they have failed if they only make it to 49,997 words in 30 days instead of 50,000, b) they are not going to worry that they have “done it wrong” if some stranger online says so (even if they made the 50K words), and c) they have never done it before.

I hadn’t thought of that, so absolutely yes, do not do NaNoWriMo if you’re prone to agonizing about failure. Personally, I think you’re doing great if you’ve:

a) started a new project and you’re at 25,000 words. Yay! That’s a real achievement!

b) finished a new project, which only took 25,000 words. Yay! That’s a real achievement!

c) Wrote 28 sonnets, one per day on most days. Yay! That’s a real achievement!

I sure wouldn’t get hung up on whether I actually made it to 50,000 words or more. That is not the measure of whether good things happened in your writing life during November.

As an aside, laptop problems = no words at all for me this morning, argh. It’s supposed to be beautiful this afternoon, much nicer than the rest of the week. I may take dogs out to the park and forget writing for the day.

As a second aside, there’s absolutely no chance I’ll finish Silver Circle before December, AARGH. However, maaaaybe before the semester ends? Surely before January? We’ll see.

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