on Dec 1, 2007
So I see that National Novel Writing Month is over.
A lot of people criticize NaNoWriMo, saying that:
- 50,000 words (the NaNoWriMo target) isn’t really a novel.
- Writing all the time just for the sake of reaching a predetermined word count is a great way to force yourself to write crap.
- If you want to write, do so! Don’t wait for an arbitrary start / stop point just because everyone else is doing it.
Those are all fair points. Everyone works a little differently. Some people are goal-oriented: I want to be a published writer and therefore I need to sit down and crank out a book even though it’s a lot of work. Other people – like me – are more obsession oriented: I have this idea and I need to get it out of my system by writing it down, even if it never gets published. I’m most certainly the latter, and something like NaNoWriMo is useless to me. But the former sort of person can probably get a lot out of it.
I’ve already written a novel, and I don’t feel any strong desire to do so again. If an idea strikes me, then I’ll end up writing one whether I want to or not.
One thing I don’t understand is why NaNoWriMo is in November of all months. In the US November means Thanksgiving, with all the related chaos of guests, huge meals, Christmas shopping, etc. Rotten time to write a book. January, February or March would be a lot better. There aren’t any major holidays, and (in the northern hemisphere) the world is a dark, joyless ball of ice. Good time to stay inside and write a book.
I write between four and seven thousand words a week here on this site, which means I’d fall short of the NaNoWriMo goal even if I replaced all of my post-writing with novel-writing. Fifty thousand words, despite not being enough for a “full” novel, is still a huge honkin’ load of words to put together in the space of a month.
But I’m curious how it went for people. I wonder what percentage of participants reach their goal? What fraction of those people go on to write a “complete” book? What (miniscule) portion of those people go on to get published? What (even smaller) portion of those folks manage to sell enough to justify the time spent on it? It’s a tough gig.
Did you take part? How did you do?
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.