Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo, v2!

My opinion has changed slightly from last year, so I’ve updated this to reflect that. You can see last year’s post here.


It’s October! Which means NaNoWriMo is right around the corner! NaNoWriMo, for those who don’t know, is National Novel Writing Month. The goal of NaNo is to write 50,000 words of a novel throughout the month of November, urged along by a plethora of activities both online and in person.

If you’re unsure about participating, I’m here to help. Below are some (hopefully) unbiased pros and cons of participating in the event, so you can make the decision to join for yourself. Below that is my opinion, as well as why I will not be participating this year.

Pros:

  • You can meet other writers in your area.
  • You can make friends with people you never would have met otherwise.
  • You can get tons of advice on writing.
  • If you’re ever stuck on something, you have plenty of people to ask.
  • You will never be short of encouragement.
  • Writing with a deadline is a great kick-start if you lack ambition.
  • The focus on quantity not quality can clear away writer’s block.
  • You can use NaNoWriMo for any style of writing — short stories, novels, or non-fic.
  • Even though 50k words is your ultimate goal, people applaud you no matter how much (or little) you write.
  • You can learn a lot about yourself, your writing style, and the writing process.
  • You can make a habit out of writing every day.

Cons:

  • It’s another thing to put on that to-do list.
  • Writing 50k words a year isn’t going to make you a better writer.
  • The goal is to write a lot, not write well.
  • People might look at you funny (friend of mine is convinced NaNoWriMo is a cult of necromancers who worship microscopic robots).
  • It’s hard.
  • It takes time.
  • You might meet people you don’t like.

Here’s where I get opinionated:

NaNoWriMo is what got me to write my first full novel. Before then, I had started many things and simply never finished. I wrote 50,000 words of my first novel that November, and completed the 95,000-word piece months later. It was utter trash, but it was a completed novel, something I had never done or even dreamed of doing before.

Now, I have three novels complete in as many years. I am serious about writing and about publishing some day. I can thank NaNoWriMo for that, for showing me that I can write a novel, and pushing me to do so. Three times.

And yet, I am not participating this year. NaNoWriMo taught me how to write a first draft, to stop worrying about quality and continuity and simply get the story written. Quality and continuity can be fixed through editing, but you cannot edit what doesn’t exist.

I’m currently editing my novel Corrupted. Though I do want to get this done during November, my goal is to spend time improving the quality of a poorly-written first draft, not to pump out words for the sake of a word count goal. I may end up writing 50k words next month, but it will be because my novel needs it.

In other words, I’m not participating because the activity does not synergize well with my current writing goals.

That said, if you have never participated in NaNoWriMo, I highly recommend you do at least once. As you can see, there are more pros than cons. If you’re someone who has a hard time sitting down and getting work done (or needs a deadline to do so), NaNoWriMo could be just the thing you need to get you going. So think about it, and check out my post on How to Use NaNoWriMo to Improve as a Writer.

If you decide to participate, I have one request to make of you: Please for the love of every god in existence do NOT query your 50k-word draft in December!! And for all those that ignore this request and do so anyways: May you burn in the fiery pits of slushpile hell for all eternity!

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on October 8, 2012, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

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