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Tuesday, November 1, 2011


If you read the title of this post and wonder if I’m trying out a new language, you’re probably not alone. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a time when aspiring novelists are encouraged to dust off the notebook, get a new chair for the office, grab a red-bull (or ten), and start writing that novel they’ve been thinking about and just never gotten around to. The goal is 50K words—which is lofty considering you only have a month.

Critics—there are a few—argue that NaNoWriMo only accomplishes one thing: The rapid production of several million poorly written words. There’s really no point in writing 50K words if those words are garbage. Right?

I do see where critics are coming from, but I don't entirely agree. In my experience, the hardest part of writing a novel is getting the first draft finished. The work isn’t done by a long shot. It would be a safe bet to assume you have another couple months of polishing and rewriting, but still, you've achieved, at the very least, a rough (perhaps VERY rough) draft. In fact, maybe all you've achieved is a very detailed outline. But if that's the case, you're still ahead of where you were, right? At the very least it's something to build off.

So if NaNoWriMo gets you sitting down to write, I say great!

But what about you guys? What are your thoughts? NaNoWriMo: waste of time, or effective means of getting a novel started?


E.R. King said...

I agree that a first draft isn't always stellar, but it's important to get it out and get it done, and as fast as possible. If you stop in first draft mode, the chance you'll finish the draft isn't good,
I'm NaNo all the way! Any excuse to write with a goal is a good one.

Steven Whibley said...

I agree E.R.. I think I'll give NaNo a solid go next year. I write everyday as it is, but I rarely get 50K done in a month (unless it's a rewrite). It might be a good way to get a jump on one of the newer idea's I have at that time.

Good luck with the last few days!

Jen Klein said...

Hi! Thanks for popping over to my site -- it made me aware of yours!

I posted something about NaNo toward the beginning of the month also. I feel basically the same way as you: awesome if NaNo helps you pound through that first (rough, unpolished, still-needs-a-ton-of-work) draft! I have heard that some agents HATE NaNo because it means that December 1st, they suddenly have a sea of submissions from would-be authors who haven't taken the time to do their rewriting work.

But I'm with you on that first draft. The hardest part is just getting through it. Then you know what needs to go, what should be moved, what works and what doesn't. I'm not one of those people who hates editing. In fact, I LOVE when I know what needs to happen and I can watch the transformation as I perform the surgery.

So everyone out there who's NaNo-ing: good luck! You're almost there!

Griffin Hayes said...

Hi all,

I don't think there's anything wrong with NaNo-ing, as Jen calls it. But I'm less confident in the average newbie writer's ability to recognize a trunk novel when they write one. I'm sure Amazon sees a huge surge of self-published crapsters not long after NaNo month is done. If it's used as a learning tool then great. If instead it's sent out to clutter the internet with more garbage, not so great. But that's just me.

Please note: I'm sure some NaNo books are good and others excellent. Keep in mind I'm only talking about the ones that are abysmal.

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