I was trying to stick to the theme of video games, and I even have the next post planned out. However, Sunday was the relaunch of the NaNo site, which means I could put in information for my next novel. I also have seen a lot of anti-NaNo posts. So here is my pro-NaNo post.
First, a disclaimer. Everyone writes differently. Everyone has their own way of doing it. Just as we respond differently to different stimuli physically, we do mentally. NaNo is not for everyone. I also firmly believe no one should ever be subjected to the sadistic practice of reading a NaNo draft. It’s just mean. With very few exceptions, they’re unreadable, there’s a lot in there that’s not very good, and they all need a lot of editing. A lot of editing. As Chris Baty would say, “Make no mistake: you will be writing a lot of crap.” Search his quotes. They’re massively inspiring.
Second, for those who do not know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Write 50,000 words in November.
With that said, here is why I do NaNo, why I think you should do NaNo, and why I even had my students do NaNo. That’s right, I’m doing a list. God save us all.
That’s right. Women. I first participated in the community last year. The first two years, I hung out on my own and I lost. Last year I won. And there are a lot of gorgeous women who attend these gatherings. I think there’s a correlation between this and my victory.
2. Public shaming creates commitment
We’ve all heard this one. When you go out and say “I’m writing 50,000 words this month,” people look at you funny. When December rolls along they’re going to ask, “So did you make it?” There will be a twinkle in their eye, a sneer in their lip, and a condescending look to their face. You’ll want to punch them. If you don’t finish, you will hide in a corner and cry. Don’t cry. Get your 50,000 words, wear your proud “I won” shirt ($20 to claim victory), and it’ll look like you punched that smug co-worker in the face.
3. It feels good
When you get the punched in the face look without assault charges, it feels amazing. My students participated in NaNo when I was an English teacher. It was a month long, and many of them still write to this day because of it. I hear many collaborative fanfictions are floating out there and it’s been three years. Why? Because it feels good. It’s like drinking. You enter a haze, it feels great, but when you look back on it you wonder what you were thinking. The awesome thing about a novel is you can edit it to be better. If your friends took photos of your night out, it’s too late to photoshop.
4. Otherwise you won’t do it
This is to those out there who say “Tomorrow.” Guess what? It’s never tomorrow. Tomorrow is always tomorrow and never today. NaNo is about today. When I did Tough Mudder, I did it because I had to get in shape today. When I did NaNo it was to scream out I’m writing today. When I did mission work in Guatemala it was to show love today. Because most days I go around with a frown, kicking kittens. I’m not sure how to put this delicately, but you could die in your sleep, get struck by a meteor, get hit by a bus, pick up the glass of anti-freeze when two cups are placed in front of you. Live today. Do NaNo. Volunteer. Hike the Grand Canyon because TM is ridiculously expensive now.
Guys, seriously. This is like going to yoga class, but the women can’t see that you have no idea what you’re doing. You just pluck away at your computer about your day, and they all think you’re an inspired genius. “Let the dog out today. He chased a squirrel. A brown squirrel.” You’re the next Hemmingway. And when she asks what you’re writing about? It’s a memoir. Follow it up with you’d love to find out more about her novel over dinner. I’ve gotten dates out of this. Granted, I’m writing an epic following the great and proud tradition of barrel-chested men drinking and killing things, but the women still have no idea what you’re writing.
That’s it. Five points, and two of them are aimed at a specific demographic. I hope you consider participating. If this isn’t your thing, I do hope you’re at least writing. For those on the fence, for those already frothing at the mouth for midnight on November first, get planning. Write up a few characters, a couple ideas, three bullet points on what you may want, or even a full blown outline.
We are all brothers and sisters in literacy. Keep up the good work, and happy planning.