Monday, December 1, 2014

Why I Love/Hate NaNoWriMo

November is over.

That means NaNoWriMo is over and if you haven't written your 50,000 words (at least) you haven't won.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual self-flagellation that some writers put themselves through, including me the past two years. And this year I won. I managed to write 63,388 words on a novel called (now) Treasure of the Pirate Planet. I did it in 25 days for an average daily word count of 2,536. My biggest day was the second to the last when I did 3,666 words.

I do NaNoWriMo for two reasons. One is the same reason soldiers will stay in a foxhole as artillery shells are landing around them. I don't want to let down my buddies. My local writers' group is very much into NaNoWriMo and they want to have a good word-count at the end for the region. So I participate in order to help raise that word-count.

The other reason is that it focuses the mind so that, yes, you do often put out a manuscript (first draft) in less than 30 days, or at least make good progress toward it (50,000 words is a very short book). It fits with my mantas "Just Keep Writing" and "Your first draft will suck, get over it and write the damn thing."

But the problem I have with NaNoWriMo is that a lot of begining writers don't realize that what you are writing in November is a first daft.  It needs to be edited, proofread, edited some more, revised, beta read, revised, edited, and then maybe then it's ready to be published or submitted.

For example, I didn't think my NaNoWriMo novel from last year, Treasure of the Black Hole, was ready to be submitted to a publisher until June of this year. And I probably won't submit this years novel (a sequel to last year's) until May or June (depending on how fast people get betas back to me).

But I think too many beginning writers think, "Oh, I've written a book, let's put on on Kindle in time for Christmas." And that really annoys me because it gives indie authors a bad name when people publish bad first drafts.

I do like that this year, NaNoWriMo has a "badge" you can earn by promising to revise your novel. I'm hoping that will give more participants the clue that they do have to revise their novels. Sure, you can whip out that first draft in a month. But now you have months of work to do to finish it.

1 comment:

  1. Well said! As I mentioned on Twitter, you're right. I've read so many books (not finished them, because I couldn't!) who read like first drafts and it is such a shame and disappointment. The reader and the story deserve a better effort. Stories are a gift , would you give people something that you haven't even finished gift-wrapping?