It’s that time of the year again! Where authors, crazies and people who just like a competition sit down and try to pump out a full length novel in a month. NaNoWriMo= National Novel Writing Month. It’s also that time of year where the rest of us sane people have to listen to those people humble brag about writing 97 pages in one sitting the day before.
I have no doubt that many people can write 97 pages in one sitting. It just requires time to sit at a desk and move your fingers across a keyboard for a few hours. The question is, are those 97 pages actually any good?
I don’t care who the hell it is, those pages probably suck ass. Wringing 50,000 words out of your brain in a short span of time is not going to leave you with a good novel. It won’t even leave you with a novel that’s legible. Because every brilliant and utterly stupid idea and thought you’ve ever had has been forced into the draft.
So you’re asking, what do I know? After all, it should be obvious I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo and never have. However, I have written a novel before. Writing a novel on your own schedule VS NaNoWriMo is like a burger made by Chef Gordon Ramsay VS a McDouble from McDonald’s.
I spent a year on/off drafting my first novel. I had full manuscript requests from four agents but ended up not being offered representation primarily because of the content of the plot(too dark for YA. Meanwhile, a novel where a teenage girl uses a dildo gifted by her ex boyfriend to punish herself with masturbation is up for the YA National Book Award. But that’s for another blog post).
I had to step away from the novel after it was done for about 4 months. Then I had writer’s block and had to step away for another month. Then I let the outside voices (who will read this novel? That’s too dark, that’s too cheesy, that’s not realistic enough, there’s not enough purple prose) get in my head and I lost all joy for writing for a week or so. Then one day, it came back to me and I started a brand new draft of the novel.
This is the reality of writing a novel. It’s supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done. It’s supposed to take up your time and make you bang your head against the keyboard.
It’s not supposed to be a competition of validity, which is what I see NaNoWriMo as. Participation badges, a word counter, prizes. Then, of course, the absurd idea that there are winners and losers in novel writing.
You’re not winning if you’re forcing yourself to write obscene word counts when you know you ran out of ideas back on page 67 where the main character got his legs ripped off by a mutated cat.
As writers, it’s true we all write garbage at some point. But the key is how much garbage we’re producing. In revisions, it’s easier to fix twenty pages of filler crap than it is to have to nix 75% of the novel. Just sayin’.