For the last several years I have flirted with participating in NaNo and every year (especially last year as I was finishing school) I forget until the middle of November (or the third week of February) when it is a little too late to start.
I am sure Stephen King could wait until November 23rd and then start but…
While I have notes and stuff all over the place of ideas and such, I have been sort of in limbo since finishing school so I have nothing mixed to put in the pot. I literally just remembered two hours ago. This is going to be fresh off the flesh of my forebrain.
It could also be terrible! But, hey, let’s play!
I have read a number of “articles” (i.e., blog posts about people I do not know and a few who are admittedly not writers) that try to dissuade people from participating in this event. They say that it is artificial, social media oriented. First it is artificial in that you don’t, in the real world, bust out a 50,000 page novel in a month that is ready for market. Nobody says that either. What the contest is (and it is with yourself, not others) is for you to put down 50,000 words of a novel. It is a writing goal within a month’s timeframe.
That part is not artificial and there is a real world parallel called the deadline. Most writing programs nowadays have little widgets or windows where you can enter daily and project target goals. NaNo merely makes the same thing into a public spectacle. In reality, you are still stuck there, alone, in front of your computer with a goal to achieve. There is nothing artificial about that. It is better to look at NaNo as a public event where you can make a very good headway on your writing project. That’s all. You may have December thru next October (or beyond) to continue writing your project, rewrite it, edit and reedit it, etc.
The social media complaint is just dumb. It is 2017, authors have to promote and their personal means is largely social media.
Another complaint is the high failure rate of participants getting to the goal of 50,000 words in a month. So what? The failure rate for restaurants in the first year is 90-95%. Does that mean you should not open up a restaurant? Maybe a lot of people find out they actually don’t like the process. Maybe a lot of people learn they can’t produce that fast. You know, some authors (and you can look this up, there are a number of them) only write a novel once every several years, some go a lot longer. Maybe November isn’t a good month for them to have started such a project (it is the beginning of the holiday season after all).
The failure rate can be broken down by the expectation of the goal. 50,000 words in 30 days breaks down to 1666 words a day. Let’s say you devote four hours a day during November that works out to a little over 400 words for each of the four hours. Given that there are 60 minutes to an hour, that breaks down to about roughly seven words a minute.
That isn’t too bad and is probably in the ballpark of what the average paid writer does.
The lamest complaint I heard was that it produces a lot of crap (even the NaNo site itself says you’ll likely produce a lot of crap). Most of what I write is crap. But far be it for me to volunteer to be the standard, most writers I’ve read who have discussed their craft say most of what they produce is crap. You just don’t see that in the published work. Or, to be fair, they try not to let that be in their published work.
The familiar scene of the writer sitting at his typewriter in a battlefield of crumpled paper at his feet testifies to that. You know who wrote those scenes? Writers.
Some people talked of it as if it spelled the death of literature (as if we weren’t postmortem already). Does it? Let’s say of the supposed half million people that participate (number from 2015) 99.999% of it is crap written by people who should not write. Let’s remember, Random House has no obligation to publish any of this stuff. Is it perhaps worth it so that some 16 year old kid somewhere finds that, having participated, he has found his calling and produces great work later?
Can’t paint? Don’t go to art class then. Writing is for writers and if you are not already a writer, then don’t bother. I say stuff it elitist snob. It is completely harmless. Even if, and I would suspect there are some, you were only to participate once every year with no expectations of ever publishing something (you just enjoy the activity, the sharing, whatever) what of it?
Some people poo poo anything.
And I should actually start thinking about a project!