A lot of people disagree with NaNoWriMo. Some go as far as to dislike the event and the entire community that comes together every November (or April and July if you’re a camper) to take on the challenge of writing a novel in a month.
I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t listen to them.
What they say isn’t wrong. I won’t argue with you there. Yes, no one is going to write a perfect, polished, best-selling novel in 30 days. I don’t care if you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King or Charles Dickens–you aren’t going to pull it off.
But the thing is, that’s not even what NaNoWriMo is about.
No one expects you to have a perfect novel at the end of those 30 days. No one expects anything of you, actually. Because NaNoWriMo is purely about you challenging yourself and attaining a personal goal. And best case scenario, it’s about you finishing a rough draft.
I’m going to repeat that a little louder for my folks in the back.
YOU’RE WRITING A ROUGH DRAFT.
NaNo is about getting the words on the page. It’s about gritting your teeth and forcing yourself to write until the end even if you don’t love your idea as much as you thought you did in those first few weeks. It’s about challenging yourself to finish what you started and get a foundation down on paper for you to work with later. It’s about developing the habit of writing regularly. To put it most simply: it’s about whatever the hell you want it to be. NaNo is for you. NaNo is about you. And whatever you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it.
So yes, I disagree with the misguided people who send off their freshly NaNo-ed manuscripts to agents and publishers, thinking it’s done. But that’s only a small fraction of the NaNo community. Most people acknowledge that when December 1st strikes, their work has only really begun.
NaNo is a stepping stone–a very, very important stepping stone. It provides that little push that so many people need. It provides a community for writers plagued with doubt who almost stop halfway through, but soldier on surrounded by their fellow writer cheerleaders. It forces people to start, which is something 90% of people who say they want to write a novel don’t do.
So harp on NaNo all you want, but there’s a reason thousands and thousands of people participate every single year.
And if you want to write a book–if you so much as want to give it a shot just to see how it goes, you should think about participating too.
It won’t be the end of the road. It won’t give you a finished product. And it may or may not lead to publication down the line.
But it’s a stepping stone. It’s a start.