I’m sure the idea that I’m taking part in National Novel Writing Month is shocking for everyone, but I’m just going to take a minute to sing its praises.
There are a few haters here and there who complain that a lot of bad novels are written during November, but they’re one hundred percent to be ignored. A lot of bad novels are written every month, but so are a lot of good ones, and the only way to know which yours will be is to write it.
Inside of NaNo, there are debates about word counts. There are a few people who, through copious application of coffee and a lack of concern for their sanity, write the whole fifty thousand words in a day or two. On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who couldn’t write fifty thousand words in a month if their lives depended on it. Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I think both have the potential to write excellent finished novels, as long as they keep going after the end of November.
As writers, we’ve spent a lot of time being trained to compete with each other, from the idea that a higher or lower word count makes a better author, to the notion that only a precious few books will ever be published. There are only so many books a publisher will choose, they tell us. There are only so many writers who can ‘make it.’ If someone buys that writer’s book, this logic tells us, they won’t buy ours.
That’s a lot of nonsense. People spend millions of dollars on books every year, and if your books are good, people will buy them, whether they’re the big five, small press, or self published. Maybe you won’t be the next J.K. Rowling, but you’ll never know until you try.
The thing that NaNoWriMo gets to the heart of, which too many of us forget, is that writing a book isn’t about author vs. author. It’s about author vs. self. No other author is holding a gun to your head, telling you not to write. (I hope.) You need to get past the idea of competing with anyone, and just sit down and write that novel. NaNo helps remind us that the only thing stopping us is ourselves. The other authors? We’re in the same boat as you, fighting against ourselves to write the best book we can write. So maybe instead of fighting over who gets the best oar, we should all grab one, sit down, and row this thing together.