Praise of Nano and the End of Day 1

2010 marks the sixth year that I’m done National Novel Writing Month. Honestly, I think NaNoWriMo is a fantastic way to give people who have always wanted to write a book the permission to just do it. And that’s basically why it was created. Chris Baty and his friends LOVED books, and therefore adored writers, so he wanted to have a way to what he loved. Not all of the people participating in Nano are pursuing lifelong publishing careers, they just want to have some fun and tackle what they’ve always wanted to do. Write a book. A lot of the people who do this, write only once a year, during Nano. Why give them flack for doing something they enjoy?

But it also has Pros for people who do want to get published. It’s a good way of jump starting a project might only take two or three months to finish as opposed to a year or more of 200 (give or take) words a day. Like Chris Baty says in an guest blog he did yesterday, “Human beings are amazing procrastinators. Give someone two years to write a 50,000-word novel, and what you’re really giving them is two years to feel guilty about not writing their 50,000-word novel. Give that person 30 days to write the same book, and they’ll get it done, no sweat. Tight deadlines bring focus and build momentum, which ultimately makes them much easier to achieve than their open-ended cousins.” And I couldn’t agree more. Unpublished writers don’t have set deadlines to finish their books like our published and contracted peers.

But 50,000 words in a month produces pure crap? Not necessarily. If it was so horrible with quantity over quality, why do published authors like Jocelynn Drake and Kelley Armstrong amongst others participate in Nano? Besides, authors on deadlines put out amazing numbers daily, I’ve seen Laurell K. Hamilton talk about doing 20 pages in a day. Yesterday, Jocelynn Drake wrote a little over 5,000 words. Does that mean either of them are producing crap? No, they’re producing first drafts. But that’s Nano is about, isn’t it?

Writers doing Nano who want to pursue publication do need to research the industry and know that just because they type THE END and give the manuscript the once over, doesn’t mean its ready to send off to an agent. Manuscripts need to be revised thoroughly before being sent off. And if a writer knows they work a certain way better (pantser vs. plotter), they should prepare before diving in with both feet. That’s why people who typically do Nano reserve October for getting ready.

Still don’t think it’s possible to publish a Nano novel? Think again, here’s a link to a page at National Novel Writing Month’s website that lists the people who have had their Nano books published. (Including a #1 NYT Bestseller, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen) http://www.nanowrimo.org/publishedwrimos

The most common advice writers give to aspiring authors is to “Write, write, write.” (As well as Read, read, read, but hopefully people who like to write, also like to read.) And writing is the thing Nano is about.

As this is my 6th year doing Nano, I can say that during my first year, oh yes, my writing was not that great, but through the years, it’s given me the chance to have at least one month a year to focus on honing my craft (through THREE years of college finals, parents, and getting married, no less.) And it taught me how to make a deadline, no matter what.

In closing, for the end of day 1, I wrote 3,150 words that I’m proud of and that didn’t exist before. Currently, I’m at 4,070 with hopes of reaching 6,000 before the end of day 2.

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