“Why isn’t the next book out yet?”

writing 6

It’s November/NaNoWriMo again, and an awful lot of the authors I know will be posting these astronomical word counts daily – sure to impress the heck out of other NaNoWriMo-ers, and give rise to the notion that writing novels is easy, and anyone who can’t produce 5,000 words at the drop of a hipster fedora every day is just a lazy s.o.b.

NaNoWriMo is responsible for a lot of substandard work. (Don’t argue. For every writer who rewrites and pays for editing and rewrites again before publishing their November output, there’s at least 200 who run that sucker through Spellcheck, buy a cheap readymade cover, and hit “Publish” on their Amazon site.)

NaNoWriMo assumes writing is easy.

NaNoWriMo assumes all writing is equal – that good and bad are not the issue – only “product” is.

NaNoWriMo makes other writers feel lesser.

NaNoWriMo is why everyone’s so mad at G. R. R. Martin.

It is true: some writers can do it – just sit down and churn out 50,000 words that equate to some kind of definition of “novel”.

Some writers do it three or four times in each twelve month cycle.

Of course, some of those writers just basically keep writing the same book, month after month, year after year, with slight alterations in the individual events and judicious name changes, so “writing” might not exactly be what they are doing; and some writers have interesting ideas but a rather slapdash way of getting them down on paper, so that much of the nuance and fascination (not to mention, structural foundations) gets left by the wayside.

But they’ve got a lot of “product” and neither they nor the readers can grasp why other writers can’t just get their bum into the chair and just write.

And then newer writers don’t understand why other writers can’t vomit out a first draft in a month. They sat down and finally wrote that novel they’d been thinking about for years, and it only took them three months from start to final polish.

Go back. Reread that last sentence.

“That novel they’d been thinking about for years.”

That’s the key – that’s the truth. For most of us, that first book is the best, the most innovative, the most well-written, and the fastest writing experience – because we spent unnoticed years developing it, fleshing it out, considering and discarding the problems, the events, the solutions. We knew the characters inside out, and the themes that had developed, and the plot that would best illustrate those – we’d honed that thing inside of our imaginations for a decade or more before ever we sat down and began to make it real.


And that’s why I don’t do NaNoWriMo.





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