good morning, cyberspace!
That title is unapologetically clickbait and NO. I shall not change it. Mwahahahahaha. *coughs and adjusts the neck of my cape awkwardly* Ahem.
So as you can probably tell from the subtle bite in the air, October is quickly approaching. Or approaching as quickly as anything is expected to approach this year, which means that time is completely irrelevant and doesn’t exist. We could wake up to a fierce December snowstorm tomorrow and no one would bat an eye. But I digress. October is coming, and with it comes preptober, and for any well-worn NaNo veteran, you know exactly what this means:
…NaNoWriMo is nigh upon us, my friends. And this year–not for the last time–I’m questioning whether or not to participate. And since I know for a fact that I’m not the only writer pondering this *waves happily at my writing group* I thought it would be fun to go over some of the pros and cons of NaNoWriMo that will more or less affect my decision on whether or not to participate.
Whether or not you choose to participate this year is completely up to you, of course, and I’m not here to sway you to either side–though you would think that is the purpose of this post. Some of the things that I consider cons might be meaningless to you, and that is perfectly okay. We’re all friends here. We can settle our differences over pitchfork battles and tea.
But before we start sharpening our blades, let’s discuss the actual pros and cons.
— THE PROS AND CONS OF NANOWRIMO —
PRO – NaNoWriMo builds community
There is no denying that NaNoWriMo is one of–if not THE–best places to find your writing community. Every year, thousands of writers take on the daunting task of writing 50,000 words of a novel within the 30 days of November. Every year, many succeed, and many fail. But the fact remains that we all have a jolly good time doing it, and we all find a sense of camaraderie in knowing that we are not doing this absolutely ridiculous thing on our own.
Aside from blogging, NaNoWriMo was the place where I first found other writers who were just as obsessed with writing as I was. Unfortunately, not many of the first relationships I made through NaNo really lasted, but that initial toe-dip into the waters of the writing community was what would later influence me to start and maintain a blog. (which, if you couldn’t already guess, was where I met my current writing/friend group.)
For many writers–myself included–NaNo is the place to find your community. And in a business that is constantly described as the loneliest of jobs, having a community to be a part of is crucial to succeeding.
PRO – NaNoWriMo gets books written
All right, all right. The NaNo cons will come momentarily, but I must admit that there definitely ARE major pros to NaNo–most important being the fact that NaNoWriMo gets books written. So many of the stories that I have finished–dare I say all of the books I’ve finished–are because of participating in various NaNoWriMo events throughout the year. There’s an accountability about it, this sort of expectation that you’re going to stick with the goals you set for yourself.
Plus, when you tell the world on your various social medias that you’re going to attempt to write 50,000 words in the expanse of 30 days, the world kinda sorta expects you to stick with it.
even if it means getting .5 hours of sleep each night and eating copious amounts of chocolate to stay motivated
Accountability and community-wise, NaNoWriMo has been instrumental in my growth as a writer. Before NaNo, I had only finished a single book, and that had been completed four years prior to my first NaNoWriMo. After discovering and participating in multiple NaNoWriMo sessions, I’ve finished two more books–one of which has been through four complicated, messy, mind-numbing drafts–and am currently writing the first chapters of a third.
Without NaNoWriMo, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to start taking my writing seriously. Would I have gotten there eventually? Perhaps. But I know that I am where I am right now with my writing because of discovering NaNo.
CON – the website is crap
We’re not even going to try and sugarcoat it anymore, folks. Literally everyone who was a frequent user of the NaNoWriMo website before last year’s delightful “upgrade” can and will attest–in the most heated of rants–that the new website is absolute garbage. It’s glitchy. It’s weird. It’s colorful, I’ll give them that, but the fact that it deleted half my Camp projects and switched all of my hourly goals to words–making it seem as though I had won an April Camp session with a grand total of 30 (count them: THIRTY) words–makes any aspects which lean in its favor crumple inwards like a poorly cooked souffle.
And I know what you’re thinking: Kenzie … will the fact that their website sucks REALLY be an instrumental component in you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?
And to that I must answer–who knows. Maybe, maybe not. But in return I must ask you this: does the new wordpress block editor keep you from blogging? Does a horrible YA trope completely ruin a good book for you? Are bowties cool?
I’m not implying anything, but I mean … *shrugs*
CON – it has the potential to foster poor writing
This, of course, is based on each individual writer, and therefore the answer can change depending on each participant. It’s a sort of “you get out what you put into it” kind of thing, and everyone’s path is different.
However. With the pressure to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days hanging on your shoulder for the whole month of November, it can be really difficult to continually remind yourself to write not just any old words, but good words. Words that, once the month is over, you’re actually halfway excited to go back and edit.
Because HOO BOY, is your novel going to need some editing. Assuming, that is, that you actually have a completed novel at the end of the month (something I’m still trying to accomplish). But again, this is completely dependent on each individual writer.
For me, personally, I’ve never topped anything higher than 60,000 words during NaNo events. But my slower pace keeps me from writing words that are written just for the sake of writing them, and I feel like that alone is worth not finishing an entire draft in a month.
That, and my first drafts typically land in the 125,000 word mark, and writing 125,000 words in a month is a surefire way to actually kill me.
But back to the main point of this: while NaNoWriMo gets books written and helps keep writers motivated to continue, I have to question what the trade-off is. Are we stunting our growth as writers to hit a specific word-goal? Or is the ability to write bad first drafts fast more efficient than writing a slower, more polished draft with less editing for our future selves?
I’m not sure if these questions have any one specific answer, but still. It’s something to ponder.
CON – I have an unforgotten grudge against NaNoWriMo
Ah, yes. Let us not forget me and my stunning ability to hold a grudge. But NaNo did me wrong and I’m still salty about it, peasants.
If you’ve been following this blog for a few years, you’ll probably remember what, exactly, they did to me, but in order to keep any bad blood out of this blog post, I’m just gonna sweep the details underneath the rug and say this: as far as NaNoWriMo goes, while I love the community and excitement of the event, I can’t really support it as fully as I once would have.
This, of course, doesn’t really mean much to you guys, but ever since a particular event, I haven’t really been able to see NaNoWriMo through the same young, innocent eyes which I once had. It burns and I’m disappointed, but I have participated in NaNoWriMo since. It just … hasn’t felt quite the same.
And finally, our last bullet point of the day–
PRO – NaNoWriMo is simply fun
There’s no denying the thrill, the rush, the exhilaration of attempting to write 50,000 words in a single month. And after having done it, once those words are in your hands and you can shove them into the non-writers’ faces and say “SEE??? Look what I did!!!”, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the whole entire world.
Put as plain and simply as possible, NaNoWriMo is one of the most fun and challenging events for a writer. And if you haven’t done it before, I highly recommend trying it just once. And then, once you’ve done it, you’re going to understand that at the end of the day, no matter how many cons I can possibly think of to try and dissuade you, there’s no way you’re not going to participate in NaNoWriMo. It’s an addiction–a drug–and once you’ve gotten a taste of it, there’s no going back.
So to answer the question of the hour–should you participate in NaNoWriMo? will I be participating in NaNoWriMo?–the answer is, and will always be … yes.
Because it’s NaNoWriMo, for goodness’ sake. And for better or worse, I’m addicted.
(but the website really does suck, I’m not exaggerating that, okay)
talk to me, peasants!
Are YOU participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What sorts of things do you take into consideration when planning on whether to participate or not? Do you enjoy the NaNo website, or do you–like literally every other writer I’ve ever talked with–think it has some serious issues? (actually honest question, here. I would love to know if there are people who enjoy the newer features??)
And most importantly–
HAVE YOU EVER WRITTEN AN ENTIRE FIRST DRAFT IN A MONTH?
Let’s talk about ALL of the NaNo-y things down in the comments below, and as always, until next time…
*flings cookies in the air and disappears*