More NaNoWriMo

November 15, 2006 | 2

Sloganeering rightly takes me to task for my sloppy framing of the NaNoWriMo debate – primarily the fact that I make no attempt to present the opposite point of view – and does it for me by pointing to Websnark’s pro-NaNoWriMo post from a year ago.

Clearly some people find NaNoWriMo useful (or at least fun) or it wouldn’t still be around, but I question the idea that it’s good for aspiring writers. Websnark presents four reasons why NaNoWriMo is an instructive exercise. The first three touch on the idea that if you want to be a writer, you have to stop being lazy and/or afraid and you have to write every day. This is undoubtedly true, and at the very least NaNoWriMo shows people how hard this really is, though I have my doubts that very many people continue to write every day on December 1 and beyond, which is the point, right? Essentially, I’m not convinced that there’s an easy trick to learning how to write every day, or even that it can be taught at all.

Websnark’s last reason for liking NaNoWriMo is that “There are worse reasons to form a community than creativity,” and that is about the best defense of NaNoWriMo that I can come up with as well. There certainly worse, less productive things one could do with one’s time, and NaNoWriMo makes a solitary, often grueling endeavor fun and social, if only for one month out of the year. But, then, if writing weren’t solitary and grueling, we’d all have novels out.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. I think a lot of writers who claim they're writing every day are LIARS. Or they actually mean they write every day when they are in the midst of a project. Some writers are going to be the kind who do write every day, some aren't. Some are going to change with each book.

    This stuff is all so personal to the individual writer and developing one's own process, I don't see how generalizing one way or the other is meaningful. I will go out on a limb though, and say that while I generally agree that the logorrhea approach yields more misses than hits, when writers are just starting out the more words the better. You just learn from doing it. It's the only way to get better.

  2. Two of my students from a fiction writing class I taught this fall were revising novels they'd written during last year's National Novel Writing Month. (And, no, they were not bad science fiction novels). Yes, they both have a lot of messy pages to trudge through, but at least they have something to work with! I don't think I'd have it in me to write that much every day; I commend their efforts.

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