I’m one of those vocal detractors and while I don’t want to argue too vehemently with Lucy-S, a published author who has written some books that I find absolutely smashing, I can’t agree with her on her opinion here about National Novel Writing Month. That is to say, I don’t mind that people do this, but I do find it extremely silly.
I’m a student at my state’s flagship university and I’m one of those chronic overachiever types who joins every student organization he comes across and I’ve managed to rise quite high up in a few of them. In nearly every single one is one student (usual female, though I have no idea why this is) who fires up his or her pens every time November rolls around. I watch them working on a laptop on their walls of text and they go pretty strong until around the 16th, when they still pull up that wall of text, but their typing has slowed down and they are not nearly as productive as before. Very few of them make it to the 20th.
What I’m reminded of most is a person who doesn’t regularly run saying, “All of November I’m going to run. I’m going to join this marathon!” And so they start out enthusiastically, but they’re not used to running and soon they’re out of breath. Yes, they want to be a writer, but I don’t think they know what effort is involved even from a first draft. They may also not understand that first drafts are almost universally shitty and they may find this nightmarishly depressing. These two factors stop most of them from completing their novels.
That’s fine, I suppose, because there are bound to be people who do benefit from this sort of thing. It’s a large world and I will not discount it, however, I would never participate in it. Let me tell you why.
I write constantly. I average a very unsteady word count a day, but it is a poor day when I can’t get out at least ten pages. I write in long hand for everything. All the writeups you have ever read by me started out as uneven and sloppy handwriting somewhere on college lined paper. I make sure that I always have some large project to work on consistently and if I-- for whatever reason-- can’t work on that project I will write stories, a few of which have appeared here. I also work for my school newspaper, am the head writer on an indie videogame (release date pending), and write what seems like an endless stream of papers for the bloody university.
For me, every month is write a novel month. I cannot stop writing and when I do, when I miss a day, I become uneasy. I begin to feel ill at mind as if I’m not contributing anything of worth, as if I’m wasting my time.
I am driven to write and I can’t see how somebody who doesn’t make time out of their day to write will benefit from setting aside only a month to write a novel, arguably the most advanced and structurally dependant form of prose our society currently possesses.
Isn’t it a little like creating a “National Symphony Composing Month”? Can you imagine all those people who would sit at their piano, or a computer keyboard, and try to write out sheet music for a hundred and thirty instruments? These people who haven’t even written for a single instrument yet?
I’d rather see a “National Short Story Writing Month”. This is an obtainable goal and if the participants work on their story for an entire month they might get something good.
Setting up an artificial time period to write is not going to help those who don’t write. It may help somebody who writes but is a chronic procrastinator, but I have my doubts about this too.
I think the entire premise is flawed from the start.
Seriously, buy her books: