I think the founder of NaNoWriMo must have been in the Navy. That service more than any other loves to smash parts of words together to form new names. ComNavAirPac. ComSubPac. NavMilPersCom. SeALs.
Okay, but seriously, National Novel Writing Month is almost a plague in the writing world. For the entire month of November it seems to be the only thing people are talking about, myself included. The big question for me is: Why do people do it?
Last year I was in the middle of editing a book and didn’t want to lose momentum. The year before that, I hadn’t started writing yet. Here are my reasons for finally joining the insanity.
- To force myself to finish my current WIP. I need 80,000 words. I currently have 30K. NaNo’s 50K requirement is the perfect push.
- To get my WIP done before the Golden Heart contest entry date. The full MS doesn’t have to be perfect unless I final, and if by some miracle that actually happened, I still have until March to get it cleaned up.
- For the same reason I once ran a half-marathon: To prove to myself that I can do it.
- Most important of all, to turn off the infernal, internal editor. (See this post where I rant on the aforementioned infernal voice.)
For another perspective, my friend Holly delineated her own reasons for giving NaNoWriMo a try in beautiful, writerly prose here.
Now I know that some people have issues with something that forces writers to go for quantity over quality. It’s a valid point for sure. But for now, I want to avoid perfection syndrome and get the words out. I have a basic structure and outline to keep me on track (until I change it ;-)). Besides, no book is complete without revisions.
During NaNo, I won’t have time for that. This is a good thing. It’ll keep me from wasting time micro-editing scenes that will probably change once I’m done anyway.
I’m not so interested in the whole community that grows out of NaNo. I’m pretty happy with my solitary writing existence—with the exception of my visits to the water cooler that is Twitter, and this blog, of course—but for those who don’t have access to writing chapters or don’t know any other writers, the organization provides a great way for them to meet others, both online and at rallies and write-ins in their local area.
Clearly many of the participants—even the winners—will never get published. But, that’s not necessarily what it’s about. It’s about pushing yourself to finish something. It’s about finding your pure, uninhibited voice. It’s about releasing your inner storyteller.
Those are my reasons. Whether you're doing it or not, what are yours?