I read an article on the TIME site this week. It quoted a publisher that bemoaned NaNoWriMo and the crappy post-November submissions they received as a result. You can’t write a good novel in a month, blah, blah, blah.
Well, no, of course you can’t! Firstly, anyone that has done any basic research into writing a novel knows that 50k won’t make a full-length book. That’s not why these people take part. NaNoWriMo gives aspiring authors a solid deadline. Write 50k in 30 days.
It also encourages you to write every day. This is such an important element in developing as a writer, and something which is an easy habit to slip out of when you don’t have a daily word count to reach.
The community element is fantastic. Enabling you to get to know other writers, and learn from them. A quick browse of the forums is a great way to see that other writers go through exactly the same self-doubt that you do. They get writers block, and days when anything seems more attractive than staring at a screen for hours on end. You’re not the only one.
And, sorry, but no one with half a brain is going to submit the first draft of any book they write to publishers. All first drafts are pants. Fact.
I’m not for one moment saying that all NaNoWriMo novels will be contenders for the Booker Prize. Most won’t make it past the publishers slush pile – but then that’s true for all books submitted to publishers.
Yet there are successful NaNoWriMo books out there. Books like Water for Elephants and The Night Circus. NaNoWriMo drives you to write, and write frequently. It’s up to the individual if they want to take the story forward, to develop it into a larger work. It’s for them to judge whether they have the time, energy and passion to work on re-drafting it for weeks or months.
It’s a great tool for writers, what the writer does with that tool is up to them.