Well, as of yesterday, I am officially a NaNoWriMo winner. See? Winner.
I'd like to say I am all psyched about it, that all the time and hard work paid off and I'm so happy with the result. In a way, it did. The discipline of it is good: forcing myself to sit down and write every day, whether I want to or not. I really believe that that is what makes you a writer, more than getting published or winning awards or having monuments built in honor of your literary genius. (Although if anyone is in the monument building business, I won't turn you down.)
Here's the thing: NaNoWriMo is great for volume; it encourages you to get a lot of words out, and quickly. Tracy and I went to a write-in, the first week of NaNo. We didn't know what to expect, except that a bunch of other NaNo'ers would be there, and writing would occur. This one was in the back room at a Panera; something like twenty writers, armed with laptops, trying to meet their quota for the day. The main event was a series of word wars, where everyone would write as much as they could for ten or fifteen minutes and whoever wrote the most would get a prize.
I hated this. Don't get me wrong—it got me to write quickly. I think I hit almost 500 words once, in the time limit. But everyone else would call out their counts: 600, 800, even 1,000. What were they writing? Could it possibly make any sense? I knew what I had written didn't. Heck, I can't even type that fast!
I felt like all
of NaNoWriMo was a big word war. Every day, I'm barely at the starting line and, BAM
, the gun goes off, and I'd better start running or I'll fall behind. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words. Knowing that there would be some days that I just couldn't write, that meant about 2,000 words per day. There was no time to think, no time to breathe; I constantly felt like I just had to write
But the act of writing is more than just adding text to your novel. There's brainstorming and planning, and sometimes you really do have to just throw something out rather than go endlessly down the wrong path. NaNoWriMo encourages you to stifle your internal editor and not worry about the quality of your prose, and that's great, very necessary for writing a first draft. But the hectic pace of it didn't give me time to worry about the quality of the story
, and that is something that I can't compromise on.
I appreciate NaNoWriMo for what it does for aspiring writers. If you've always said you want to write but never opened a word processor and faced the terror of a blank screen, then NaNo is a good kick in the duff. But am
a writer; I already make a point of writing most every day. I'll be happy now to turn off the deluge of words and go back to writing at my own pace. I know my stories will be the better for it.