Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Pro-NaNoWriMo rant

All righty, so I am aware that there are those who do not like NaNo. And, to a certain extent, I can agree with them. NaNo is not for everyone. We all have our writing habits, and for some people, NaNo is far too crazy/frantic/sloppy/ect. I'm not here to argue with them.

I WILL say what I like about NaNo, and why it works for me.

1.NaNo makes you write crap. Some have said NaNo encourages sloppy writing, that it focuses more on word count then making your words pretty. And my response to that is: it absolutely does. Who here writes perfect prose their first time around? I know I certainly don't. That's what the rough draft is FOR, just getting the words down. As Stephen King and Ernest Hemmingway and Anne Lammott have all said: the first draft of anything is crap.

For me, my inner editor is constantly trying to make me write perfectly the first go-around. And when I listen to it, my writing slows to a crawl. NaNo frees me from the inner critic and lets me just write whatever comes to mind. And you know what? If the writing is crappy (as it almost always is) that's OKAY. I don't want to focus on pretty prose the first time around; I just want to get the skeleton down so I have something to work on later. First draft=crap. So, write joyfully, and don't worry that your words aren't perfect. You can always fix a bad page, but you can't fix a blank one.

2. NaNo gives you a deadline. I know everyone can finish a novel if they really, really want to. That doesn't mean its not hard. Having clear goals certainly helps me stay on top of things. I know that I have to write 1,667 words everyday to meet my goal of 50,000 words in a month. It keeps the pressure on to keep going. Before I was published, I wrote when I felt like it, when the mood struck, when I got "inspiration." And you know how long it took me to complete my first book? 5 years. Then, I signed up for NaNo, and suddenly discovered I could write an entire book in 2 months! THAT was a revelation. Now, when my contract says I have this many months to write, polish, and send a book to my publisher, I say: no problem.

3. NaNo encourages you to try something impossible. A novel in 30 days? Crazy talk! Before NaNo, even published, well-established authors would mock such a ridiculous concept. Even now, people will sneer at NaNo authors, stating that a book written in 30 days is certainly crap. That its just a bunch of words thrown together, with no plot, no style, and it CERTAINLY would never get published. To that, I say: you know this YA book called The Iron King? That was a NaNo project. So it can happen. That's not to say it will, and I HIGHLY discourage sending off your unpolished NaNo project to weary editors at the start of December. They will be receiving a flood of NaNo books already, still in the "crap" stage. You want your manuscript to stand out from the river of unpolished sludge. 50,000 words on paper does not a novel make.

Instead, NaNo encourages you to write, for the sheer joy of it. Don't worry about getting it perfect or published or penning a literary masterpiece. Just write. At the end of the month, you'll have written a novel. In 30 days. Who can say that, really? Let the Naysayers nay. You've finished a book. You've done what others only talked about. Be proud. You are now a writer.

Again, I'm not saying NaNo is for everyone, or everyone has to love it. But for those of us who DO love it (including yours truly), don't let anyone discourage you. Write joyfully, write everyday, and I will still see you at the finish line.


NaNoWrimo word count (day 2): 3,558


  1. Thank you. I needed to read this.

  2. Great post! I'm a NaNo lover. It gets me to focus on writing instead of constantly stopping to edit.

  3. I compltelely agree Julie. I know people who say they hate nano--and have never finished a novel before. And personally, I'd rather have a crappy finished novel, than various peices of unfinished novels.

  4. Thank you *air hug* this is my first year and I was getting discouraged already by haters. I'm sticking with it though, got to finish what I started! Oh and FYI you rock :)

    #NaNoWriMo day 2 word count: 5862

  5. Great stuff. I am not participating this year due to a combination of my failure last year/realization that I am way too busy come November, what with midterms and all. I linked to your blog in my post about it.

    Good luck to everyone who is participating!!

  6. I like the idea of NaNo, it gets me to actually WRITE something down instead of always saying "I'll do it tomorrow"!

  7. Go you!

    The hardest, most impossible part of writing a book is finishing it. That's what I love about NaNoWriMo. Yes, it's crap. But if you won, it's crap you finished. I still remember what it felt like to finish a novel. I didn't think I could do it. And then...I did. I couldn't quite believe it.

    I started my next book the following day, and soon I felt like I could never finish it. Except, since I'd finished one already, I knew I could, because I already had.

    NaNoWriMo isn't about quality; it's about proving to yourself that it can be done and YOU can do it. Why anyone would want to discourage that is beyond me.

  8. Last year was the first year I had ever heard of NanowriMo, and I thought it was for other people.

    This year, I'm feeling the tug in my belly, that maybe, just maybe this is for me.

    After reading your Por NanoWriMo rant...I'm thinking next year I'm in. It's on my calendar and everything (For example - October 20th: TO DO: Clear off desk, buy coffee for NaNoWriMo)

    Just wanted to say thanks. I'll check in with you in 2011. (For example: December 1st: Check in with Julie Kagawa and yell at her for making November hell on earth.)

  9. Thank you Julie for this inspirational pep talk. I'm going to allow myself to write crap!

  10. I did not know that The Iron King was a NaNo novel. I think I love it even more now!

  11. I'll never understand why people feel the need to so vehemently knock down things just because they themselves aren't interested in it. Nano may not be my thing (though I admit I did try a couple years back and failed) but I love that it excites so many other people. Not to mention the really awesome work I get to read as a result of participation.

  12. WOW, thanks for sharing this post, I had no idea The Iron King was your nano project one year. I totally agree with everything you said and I thank you for the encouragement :)

  13. I fell in love with NaNo in '10. I learned of it midway into November and dug in, actually reaching the word count just shy of the deadline. It wasn't easy, and honestly exhausting, but I'd do it all over again. Definitely a challenge. I'll admit, even more inspired to learn Iron King was a NaNo project. Will you join us again this year?