(Subject line in reference to myself, of course, not anyone else. ;P)The Good and Bad of NaNoWriMo
These are some things that have occurred to me over the course of this thing called NaNoWriMo
. It's likely these are things that are incredibly obvious to everyone else, and I'm just the idiot who clued in last, but too bad, I'm writing about them anyway. :P
NaNo is about speed. Duh. Everyone knows that.
What's important are the implications of that mantra. Quantity over quality. A completed product over no product at all.
That does have its good side, which is pretty well-covered on the NaNo website. The cruel inner editor we all carry can be paralyzing. Many people will never write that novel they dream of because they'll always run into that wall of "I'm not good enough, I'm wasting my time on this." NaNo punches through that wall, and that's good. You produce something
, in a situation where you would have had nothing. It's a starting block, a leap over that first hurdle, and for those who are a bit shaky on the writing thing (or the self-confidence department) it can be exactly what they need. It's for that reason that I do, and will continue to, react defensively when people in the industry bash NaNoWriMo and the writers who do it.
On the flip side, however, you have the people who already write reasonably well. If you know me at all you know how I am about ego, so it may surprise you to see me admit I believe I fit in that category. xP I know I'm not nearly ready for publishing (dear God, do I ever know that), but I'm not starting from square one either. I do okay. In my position, I find my inner editor to be more of a trusted partner than an evil overlord to be evaded.
It's been very hard for me to shut off that nagging inner voice - not because it's blocking me from producing, but because I'm producing crap and I know
I'm producing crap. My NaNo is a giant pile of empty garbage, and it threatens to have the counterproductive effect of convincing me I'm hopeless at original fiction. I can't do my best when I'm speedwriting, and when I'm not writing something I can be proud of, I'm not motivated to write at all.
I'm still going to do my best to finish, because I think it would be good to have a completed novel under my belt - even if nobody can ever read it on pain of their brain melting out their ears. I'm just glad I picked a fluffy, relatively superficial story for this that I won't mourn too much over wasting. Who knows, I might be able to save it with extensive editing. But if I can't, I won't cry over it, and it'll at least give me a base level of practice for original work.
The saddest part is I'm pretty sure my first serious attempt at a fiction novel, five years ago, in college, before I got any practice or feedback through fanfiction, was better than the NaNo I'm writing now.
Speaking of fanfic, I'll stick my neck out and admit I've never been pleased with fanfiction being permitted for NaNoWriMo. Speaking as someone who's done both, writing a novel-length fanfic and writing a 100% original novel are not the same kind of accomplishment. They both take effort to do well, definitely, but they're not the same. When I mentioned this somewhere, it was pointed out to me that NaNo is not about the quality level of the work. I've always been one to argue for doing your best in all things, but now that I've given it more thought, I have to admit that's true. When the focus is on achieving a result, any
result, the content of the product doesn't matter as long as it's done.
And that's good, for some. But I don't think that's for me.
(While I'm here, as of this Saturday we will be at the halfway mark, so this weekend I'm going to be pruning my list of writing buddies on the NaNo site. I think as of Saturday it's safe to assume anyone still showing a word count of 0 decided not to do NaNo this year, and since the site never fixed the bug that limits the buddies display page to 11, I'd like to see the word counts of the buddies who are participating. If I remove you and you want to be added back on, let me know.)nanometer