Standing up for NaNoWriMo

I was really disappointed to read this article by Laura Miller, senior writer for Salon (posted at the bottom). I felt I needed to respond because NaNoWriMo is very dear to my heart.  I do respect everyone’s opinion, but I think there’s a lot that is being missed regarding the purpose of NaNoWriMo. The author of this article qualifies this event as a waste of time and energy. There is a lot worse things you can do in November than write a novel.

As an amateur writer, this event has given me opportunities that otherwise would have been difficult at best without it. As someone living in a big city, when you have a dream, where do you begin? Obviously, I’m not yet on the best seller’s list, but through launching myself into this event last year for the first time, I’ve started making baby steps into the literary world.

NaNoWriMo was the tool that saved my sanity last year. When I decided to join NaNo, it was just part of a challenge, not knowing that adversity was around the corner. It was one of the most difficult times in my life on the personal front and yet the eagerness to get this novel completed allowed me to channel my energy there and not focus on the adversity that was going on in my life. Not only did I win, but I ended with a finished product. I understood that there was a lot of editing that needed to be done after finishing the novel and that particular novel is still being edited as I plan to publish it.

I don’t think it’s fair to blame NaNo for people who do not spend the time editing their work and presenting it to a publisher. That would be like blaming Duncan Hines for a cake that didn’t come out right because you didn’t follow the instructions. The NaNoWriMo website and staff are always mentioning December as the editing month. They make it clear that the work done in November is a raw product that needs development and in some cases, it may just need deleting, but it allows an individual to organize their thoughts for a month and be creative.

The other thing that NaNoWriMo gave me was community. I’ve met people that I probably would not have met under other circumstances. We have something in common, the desire to write. We learn from one another, we encourage one another and guess what? we have fun; clean unadulterated fun. I think I’m on the other end of the spectrum thinking that there should be more events like this worldwide.

The author states that writing more novels is a waste of time, as we have too many already. Maybe we should tell Starbucks to stop opening shops as they have one on every corner. Although, by the way, I need one closer to my house or they need to seriously start delivering, especially during NaNoWriMo.

She also states that there are better things to do in November. That’s a matter of opinion. As a balanced person during November, I still go to work, pay my bills, walk my dog (less frequently bless her heart), go to church and participate in those things that I’m involved with, talk to my friends, take care of my Café World and Farmville in Facebook,  go to the gym, visit my family and have Thanksgiving dinner. The only difference is that instead of watching another re-runs of Law and Order or Criminal Minds, I choose to write. How dare I?

Aside from all the creative work that NaNoWriMo promotes, it attracts people to help others through the fundraisers that help charities. That apparently is also a bad thing.

I just felt the need to stand up for an event and a company that I believe in and that encouraged me to go forward with chasing my lifelong dream of being a writer and pursuing the gift God gave me.

About reading, it’s also inaccurate to assume that these 130,000 NaNo writers are not readers as well. I can only speak for myself. I am enrolled in Goodreads where I post the reviews of the novels I read and share those with my friends. I also belong to a book club that discusses a novel every month and that’s on top of all the online reading regarding articles, news, blogs and other things that capture my attention.

With all this said, I think that this article didn’t do NaNoWriMo justice and I have written almost 750 words that I can’t include in my novel…so enough of this and let’s get back to writing!!

5 thoughts on “Standing up for NaNoWriMo

  1. A large part of me wonders if Miller wrote that article just for the shock value. It’s so illogical and so badly written that I am having a hard time wondering why she feels like she has any authority to trash bad writers since she seems to be one herself. A good editorialist would have conceded on at least a point or two, as well as given adequate support for each point, and she did neither. She actually cited a comment at a dinner party for proof of an entire argument and then cited Twitter for another.

    Furthermore, she is a writer, a fact that she seems to overlook, and she is using writing to prove that the world doesn’t need more writers? It’s laughable, really.

  2. Thank you for your response! I was just fuming as I sat there reading the original. I have been a lifelong reader and a lifelong writer. (Not saying much, though; 18 years old doesn’t give it much of a sense of accomplishment!) And yes, there is crappiness, but it’s so much fun, and that’s what the second draft is for. What exactly is so wrong with someone writing a book? I wrote 74 pages of a draft back in sixth through eighth grade, thought it was gold when I started out, thought it was terrible when I stopped. It helped me learn what doesn’t work for me, what did work for me, and feel good that at least I tried.

    I apologize; I’ve just been ranting about the original. Your article made me cheer, and good luck with your noveling pursuits!

    1. Thanks for your visit and your response. Don’t feel bad about your age. I started writing at age 14 and I’m way in my 30’s now. A passion is a passion and making assumptions on how people should spend their time and how they behave from a distance it’s just a disservice to the truth. Good luck to you as well!

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