Thursday, 1 November 2012

Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo

It's November which means two things. Guys will be growing out their beards for Movember or No Shave November, depending on what you want to call it. Also, hundreds, maybe even thousands of writers will attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript in the next 30 days.

I've never attempted NaNo, but I've got some thoughts on it.

The Pros:
* It motivates people to write.
* There is a supportive community for participants.
* It is a "safe" way for aspiring writers to dive in.
* It enforces discipline (maybe too much of it and only for 30 days, but still, NaNo succeeds in getting butts in chairs.)

The Cons:
* On December 1, agents will be flooded with queries of writers wanted representation for their unedited manuscript. These queries will most likely not make it out of the slush pile. TAKE TIME TO EDIT!
* On a related note, NaNo wants quantity versus quality. In order to meet the word count, writers plug away, but don't edit, and at the end, in celebration of their hard work, these exhausted writers are eager to get their work out there, without having giving it the once over or given it to beta readers.
* People lose sleep and sort of don't have a life because they are desperately trying to meet their daily word count.

NaNo isn't all bad. I'm glad it gets people motivated to write and one could certainly argue that self-editing as one goes along can be counterproductive and NaNo doesn't really allow for this because of the need to keep writing to meet one's word count. That being said, the points about editing are also valid. Agents want manuscripts that are very close to being publishable, because publishing houses don't have the resources to spend on substantive editing the way they use to. The market has changed. Agents are now putting on the "editing" hats, so before you approach an agent, make sure your manuscript is as ready as it can be. Something you've written in 30 days, won't be ready on the 31st day.

Also, NaNo doesn't have to end once November is over, nor do you have to participate to learn something. Set reasonable word count goals. How many words do you want to write today? This week? When do you want your first draft finished? I hope to have a first draft of my WIP done by the end of the month. I'm not doing NaNo, but I'm definitely going to be writing away.

Are you doing NaNo?