Q&A on NaNoWriMo

Are you doing National Novel Writing Month this year, Jim?

I’ve done novel dares before, and twice finished novels of roughly 80K words in a single month, but my schedule these days keeps me firmly on the one book/year routine.

How does NaNoWriMo compare to real writing?

Well, you know, “real” writers sit down and put words on the page. Whereas those wacky NaNoWriMo folks are all about sitting down and putting words on pages. How could you possibly compare the two?

Doesn’t it bother you when hundreds of thousands of people every year turn your career, the dream job you’ve worked at for 16 years, into some kind of game?

Writing a book is an awesome accomplishment. Few of the people who do NaNoWriMo are going to be professional novelists, but why should I care? Do you hear pro football players grumbling that informal, after-school football games take away the specialness of the NFL? Where are you getting these dumbass questions?

Sorry. Do you think it’s possible to write a good novel in 30 days?

Yes. I know very few people who can do it, but it’s certainly possible. I know one author who wrote and sold a novel to a major publisher in less than a week. In most cases though, what you’re going to get after NaNoWriMo is a first draft. And if you’re anything like me, finishing that draft is only the start of the process…

Isn’t the emphasis on quantity over quality a bad thing, teaching participants to write crap?

What’s wrong with writing crap? My first drafts are full of it. That’s what rewrites are for.

Eric Rosenfield says NaNoWriMo’s whole attitude is “repugnant, and pollutes the world with volumes upon volumes of one-off novels by people who don’t really care about novel writing.

As we know, one-off novel pollution is a serious issue, and I’m hoping the EPA will take steps to protect us all from this growing problem before it’s too late. I remember last December when I came home to find thousands of NaNoWriMoers had broken into my home, flinging the still-warm pages of their manuscripts all over my floors. It was a nightmare. My feet are still scarred from the papercuts, and we never did find one of the cats. Don’t listen to the novel pollution deniers! Read the science and call your legislator today!

Also, if people don’t care about novel writing, they wouldn’t be writing a novel!

Well, what about Keith DeCandido’s post, wherein he says NaNoWriMo has nothing to do with storytelling; it teaches professionalism and deadlines, and the importance of butt in chair?

I think he has a point about the importance of self-discipline, about sitting down and writing, as opposed to just talking about it. Professionalism? I don’t even know what that means…

Fine, what do you think NaNoWriMo is about?

Well, the website says it’s about a bunch of people trying to write 50,000 words in a month, but what NaNoWriMo is really about is giving “professional” writers like me the opportunity to weigh in with Very Important Opinions.

Any last words of advice, Mr. Very Important Author?

Everyone’s process is different. Don’t worry too much about what the rest of us say. Figure out what works for you, and have fun.

And when you finish, take the time to check out sites like Writer Beware to make sure you don’t get scammed. There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there who are  eager to take your money. Don’t give it to them.