It’s that time of year again. Time for all of those who are writing a novel (or trying to) to think about getting involved with NaNoWriMo. For all my non-writing friends, that’s National Novel Writing Month. That’s the month of November where novel writers, novice and experienced, sit down and write the first draft of a minimum 50,000 word novel in thirty days. I’ve heard of people who’ve completed the draft and published the novel, and I’ve known people who’ve tried and failed. More, by the way, of the latter than the former. My personal opinion of NaNoWriMo is that it’s a bad idea and I’ve never had anything to do with it. Here are some of my arguments.
I should point out before I get started that these represent strictly my opinion. If you like NaNoWriMo, and especially if you’ve pulled down a novel out of that furious time, then by all means go ahead and do it. Don’t let my arguments dissuade you. Keep in mind, though, I won’t be joining you.
First, I’m already in the process of writing a novel, the third in my Anthanian Imperative trilogy, and I don’t need to sit down and write it under some other circumstances. I’ve got over 63,000 words so far and it’s about two-thirds of the way through the first draft.
Second, I don’t want to write that way at all. I don’t like the idea of pressure to force me to write. Deadlines are one thing, but sitting down to do something I can do in the other eleven months of the year is quite another.
Third, I see no reason for it. If you can write a novel of at least 50,000 words, why don’t you? Why wait for November? Work all year long.
Fourth, I do other things than write novels. I also write short stories and blog posts (self-evident if you’re reading this). I’ve just revised several short stories in preparation to sending them out to magazines for possible publication. September and October are good months for doing that because a lot of literary magazines are affiliated with universities and have reading periods of September to around April or May or so. I may want to work on shorts during November.
Fifth, I dislike the choice of November. I think a better month for NaNoWriMo would have been March. March has 31 days and it’s mostly in winter where little else is going on. It has no appreciable holidays either. Yeah, okay, St. Patrick’s Day, and if you’re Irish, that may be much more of a distraction than for those of us who aren’t, but at least it’s not Thanksgiving. I’ve heard some people say that perhaps the month of November was chosen precisely because it has a large national holiday, and that tests you, to see if you can handle a big interruption and still finish your novel. That’s possible, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I say pick a month and write.
Sixth, I hate the idea of someone telling me what to do. There are so many rules in writing, many of which are predicated on the idea that if you don’t do them, your work will be a pile of trash and you’ll never be published. Buck the trend, I say. Write your own way. Don’t let someone else tell you what to do. If you want to take a month off and not write, go for it. Or, if you want to take a month and write until your fingers fall off, go for that. What the hell, it’s your novel.
Seventh, I think it’s a bad idea for a beginner. As an unpublished writer, I feel that putting that much pressure on a new novelist is not a good way to get that person interested in a career in novel-writing. NaNoWriMo should be reserved for experienced writers.
Eighth…well that’s enough.