The main criticism I’ve heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is that it encourages quantity over quality in writing. Writers are spurred on to spew out words as quickly as possible without regard for the value behind the words. And then, thanks to the ease of self-publishing, there is a glut of poorly written books with little to no copy editing, flooding the already crowded book market.
While there is some truth in this, that is not what NaNoWriMo is about. Writers are encouraged to write quickly as a means to quiet the inner editor/critic that sometimes gets in the way between us and our muse. What we do with these words once we get them on paper is up to us. Participants are also encouraged to revise and edit their work before sending them to an agent or publisher or self-publishing.
Ultimately, NaNoWriMo is what you make it. It is set up to challenge writers to create 50,000 words of fiction or non-fiction, but many writers use this time to revise and edit a previously written work, or may not aspire to a 50,000 word count, settling on a more manageable goal. They use the momentum of NaNoWriMo to help them achieve these goals. What’s important is that you are writing in some shape or form.
For me, my participation in NaNoWriMo this year has taken an unexpected turn. I had planned on writing the first draft of the sequel to the book I wrote in the summer of 2015. There were problems with this first book, but I hoped that through the process of writing the sequel, it would become clearer to me how to address those problems. An unexpected gift of a developmental edit of the first fifteen pages of the book gave me the insight I needed to fix the first book.
Rather than flying ahead with the sequel, I’m finding myself revising the first. If the revisions go quickly, I just may be able to catch the NaNoWriMo wave to start the second, but better to have a solid foundation from which to write the second by correcting the first.
So for me, it has been ready, set, stop.
There are no NaNoWriMo police to chastise me or give me a ticket for failing to do what I had originally set out to do. Instead there are words of encouragement from other writers who know all too well the vagaries of the craft. NaNoWriMo truly is what you make it!
How might you use NaNoWriMo to further your writing goals this year?