So, yesterday I blathered on a lot in my intro to NaNoWriMo. But while extolling its virtues, I think I overlooked a very basic point. What is the actual purpose of NaNo? After all, people can write any time, they don’t need no stinkin’ contest.
NaNoWriMo is many things to many people. There are as many ways to approach it as there are participants. (That would be about three hundred thousand.) Everyone has their own personal goals, or reasons for participating. But there is one purpose that underlies everything else.
The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to make you write.
Duh, you say. How obvious can you be? But really think about that.
Many people fantasize about being a writer. But in order to be a writer, even as a hobbyist, you must actually write. Thinking about characters, imaginary worlds, and plot twists is all kinds of fun. (In fact, it’s my favorite part.) But having a creative mind and a vivid imagination does not a writer make.
And if your fantasy about being a writer includes sending your work off to agents, in the hopes of actually getting published, this is even more important to understand. The number of people who are talented enough to get their first ever novel published are few enough to not even be worth discussing. The vast majority of writers do not spring full grown from the head of a Muse.
The typical writer must learn the craft and develop their voice. You cannot do this by reading books or websites about writing, listening to speakers, or fantasizing. Those are all valuable, but what is absolutely critical is to write. You learn to write better by writing. There is no shortcut.
I’ve seen it bandied about that a typical writer must write one million words before they have developed enough skill to write something publishable. Exact numbers can be debated, and they’ll be different for each individual anyway, but the point can’t be ignored. You have to write a lot before you can write something truly worth reading. (Your aunt and best friend don’t count.)
NaNoWriMo makes you write. Especially when you might otherwise not. It gives you the framework within which to write some of those one million practice words.
By my calculations, I still have somewhere in the neighborhood of 712,000 words to go.
And now some links! I spent quite a while wandering around WordPress blogs to see what others are saying about NaNo. I selected a few to link to here.
Deciding if NaNoWriMo is for you.
A humorous pep-talk to get you fired up.
Some general tips helpful to newbies.
Some tips from NaNo veterans.
An easy plotting method if you have no idea how to start.
Are you a planner, a pantser, or a percolator?
A series of posts, starting with idea creation, and moving on to other topics.
p.s. The link to the NaNo site is: http://www.nanowrimo.org