On NaNoWriMo and Why as a Professional I Have Reservations

I must admit I get a little bothered how some people beat themselves up because they’re not on pace with NaNoWriMo. I don’t like to Stay true to the story and yourself rather than a meaningless word vomit exercise.see that. Writing is hard enough without having to go through that. I see way too many beginning writers pulling their hair out over this. I don’t think that’s good.

I understand the concept behind NaNo, but I am not convinced it helps more than it hurts new writers. I don’t view writing as a one month sprint. It’s a twelve month activity for me. I know NaNo works for some people and that’s great. It is supposed to teach dedication and concentration and force writers to finish stories and I think it does for some who respond to that sort of thing. But I also see a lot of writers denigrating themselves on Twitter and Facebook and other online venues because they are not on track to write the requisite number of words every day. Therefore, in their mind, they must be failures. That’s what they think. And that bothers me. It bothers me as a professional who works in this field and it bothers me as someone who used to teach.

We want new writers to learn and grow and adapt and prosper. Don’t we? I do. But I don’t see how throwing them into flensing knives accomplishes that goal. I guess when you get right down to it way too many writers take NaNoWriMo much too seriously. I mean, come on, guys, it’s writing. Yeah, it’s hard and difficult and frustrating and a pain….but it’s still only writing. It ain’t rocket science.

NaNoWriMo is an instrument. It may even be a valuable instrument under proper guidance. But it is not a good teaching tool.

Come on, guys. Seriously. Writing is hard enough without this. Just keep working on your story and stop slamming yourself because you’re not up to speed on NaNo. NaNo means nothing. Absolutely nothing. You don’t win anything and you don’t lose anything if you finish or if you don’t finish or if you start or stop or never even think about it at all.

Just keep writing, keep working at your craft, keep learning and keep honing your talent. Sit down and stay dedicated and finish your story. Concentrate on quantity and quality both. Stay true to the story and you will be okay. That’s what you should be concentrating on.

Focus on that and you will help your writing career much more than concentrating on some artificial word vomit exercise that carries no weight whatsoever in the real world.


A Conversation with Story: I say goodbye, you say hello

Story: You have to let me go.

Me: No, let me tinker with you some more. I think I can get it right if I rework this one scene.

Story: You’ve been tinkering off and on for months and you’re still not happy.

Me: I can get it right if I tweak you here and there. I know I can do this.

Story: You are so frustrating. You do know what’s going on here, right?

Me: Yes, I do. You’re not perfect so I have to keep working on you until you are perfect. Now be quiet and let me work.

Story: I will not be quiet because you are not seeing this how it truly is. This isn’t about tinkering with me to make me perfect. This is about you being afraid to of failure.

Me: What are you talking about now?

Story: You’ve been working on me for longer than I care to remember. I’m written, I’m done. But you keep tinkering. A comma here, a word there. You’re always poking at me. I’m not going to get any better. I’m ready. I tell you I’m ready. So zip me up and email me to the next available market. Stop being afraid to fail.

Me: I’m not afraid to fail.

Story: Then why won’t you let me go? Because I am a reflection of you. You want me to be perfect. Okay, I get that. I want to be perfect. But I am telling you I feel pretty good right now. I think I am ready. Changing one little bit of me here or editing one little bit there, isn’t going to make me any better. Now stop tinkering with me. Either put me aside and get started on a new story, or send me out to be considered for publication.

Me: You’re a little mouthy today.

Story: Sometimes it’s the only way I can get through that thick skull of yours. You need to trust yourself more when you write. Trust yourself and trust your instincts when it comes to writing.

Me: But how do I know when I should trust myself or my own instincts? Sometimes I don’t feel confident enough in my work to do that.

Story: Which is why you keep tinkering. I see this all the time. Writers keep rewriting and rewriting stories in the vain hope that one day that story will finally become the one true perfect story. It doesn’t happen that way. Either you believe in my now or you never will.

Me: Okay, I’m going to send you out. I think you’re ready.

Story: Good. I think you might be surprised at the result. Too often a writer is much too critical of his own work. I have always said writers are the worst judge of their own work and it’s true. I’m okay. I’m telling you I’m ready for submission. Now let me go.

Me: I’m sorry. You are right as usual.

Story: Learn to trust yourself more and your stories will work harder for you.

Me: If you sell I’m going to buy a cheeseburger to celebrate.

Story: With onions? Now you’re talking.

Me: Always cracking wise, aren’t you?

Story: Hey, I’m here all week.

Me: You wish. I’m hitting send now. Off you go to the editor. Okay, what next?

New Story: Hello.

Trust yourself and your work. Don't keep rewriting. Put the story aside and start on the next one.



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