Monday, November 18, 2013

“Don’t be offended if you encounter some good-natured ribbing; the idea of writing a novel in a month deserves to be laughed at.”

Oh, November.  The one month a year when I, and writers everywhere, actually panic over how much writing we actually get done, and if we will ever be able to hit that 50k word mark by midnight on the 30th.

And after 5 years of participating in the month long ordeal, I've come to the conclusion that I, like so many others, cannot.

The most I have ever written in one month, for NaNoWriMo, is approximately 25k give or take a few.  However, there have been days when I have written 5-6k words without even realizing it, because I'm not keeping track!  I don't check every hour what my word count is, and there's no pressure to write so many words in such a small amount of time.  And I have to be honest with you, the pressure of NaNoWriMo is more stressful than any other writing experience I've ever had.

So why do I put myself through this every year?!

I'm starting to believe that doing NaNoWriMo is purely egotistical.  I have this undying need to prove to myself that I can write 50 thousand words in 30 days, and have it be something worthy of possibility.  Being a writer, there is a lot of competition, especially self competition.  You always want to top your last project, write something better than all your previous work.  But sometimes, it's not.  Sometimes it's worse, or just the same as the rest of your work.

But every year, I sign up for NaNoWriMo, and by the end, I normally end up with a range between 15-20k words, and I feel like a failure.  Which is stupid because it's not like you actually win anything for finishing NaNoWriMo, except for the satisfaction that you were able to write 50k words in 30 days.  Even if the story make no sense because you're not supposed to go back and edit (even though I do because it drives me insane not to edit blatant typos and misspelled words.)

I love writing, and I like the idea of a bunch of writers getting together and writing.  But after 5 years of pressure, stress, and constant word count checking, I can officially say that writing a good, solid book in 30 days is nearly impossible.  The majority of published books are 80k words or more.  Publishing companies won't even look at a book unless it's at least that, so why do we push for 50k when it's 30k less than what a book should be?

I'm sorry if you came here thinking you'd get a pep talk. I am all about encouraging each other to write and keep writing, and to believe in yourself and your story.  But to me, NaNoWriMo seems to be more about quantity over quality, when we all know real books are about quality.   And it takes more than thirty days and fifty thousand words to get there.