With eight days into October, my inbox is already getting reminders about the glorious frenzied time that is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. In twenty-three days, writers from many different parts will engage in the tradition of penning/typing/bleeding fifty thousand words between November 1st and November 30th. The hashtags of #wordcount, #amwriting, and #NaNo will appear in social media, along with a flurry of memes and parody postings about the writerly life.
Oh, and there will be more blog posts. That’s a guarantee. Of course, there will be the posts that come from the NaNoWriMos themselves. Those posts throughout the month will talk about works in progress, the struggles of writing, the bursts of inspiration, the leaden writers block, and the final post-tryptophanic triumph of finishing THE DRAFT when the clock ticks over to December 1st. There will also be posts against NaNoWriMo; posts from people who say that there are eleven other months where people can write, that people who participate in this tradition are not writers but ego-driven hacks, and that they think the whole idea is stupid, and anyone who participates in it is stupid.
Hey, it’s one of the Internet Laws. At some point in time, someone will point and blow raspberries and call your enjoyment stupid. This happens often with NaNoWriMo and the general idea of writing. People decide to be gatekeepers of the written word, and I have seen posts and tweets from those who try and lay down a law that if thou shalt NaNo, then thou shalt not call thyself a true writere (you add the extra ‘e’ because of the thou shalts). Heck, there’s the argument that you’re not a real writer if you don’t do it full time, so by that definition, I’m not a writer.
Really? C’mon… why not go write instead of putting on suspenders and a hat and playing at the writer police. The communities are already so fragmented, so why add to the grumbling angst? Why not welcome those who set out to write and finish a novel? Why not applaud their drive and determination; squashing it under a smelly calloused thumb doesn’t do anyone any good.
… unless you’re scared they could be good. And you don’t want anyone else to be good, heavens no! That would be terrible, to make things fun and inspiring to bring new writers into the fold! Nooooooo!
Yeah. I thought it looked ridiculous when I typed it, too.
The fact is, passing judgment on someone who decides to set aside time on a particular month to hit a daily wordcount isn’t productive. The world is better for the stories we are able to tell, and we should encourage more people to tell their stories. They might not work out well the first time, and that’s okay! If Mur Lafferty says that it’s okay for a first draft to suck, then it’s okay for that first draft from NaNoWriMo to suck… but that’s a first draft to improve and edit and polish. It might not have happened in the absence of the nostalgia of NaNoWriMo.
So, if you write, support your fellow fledgling writers. Even if you don’t participate in NaNoWriMo, celebrate more people taking the time and courage to tell the stories that are inside of their heads. Encourage those who take the first step toward a new story. Support creative ventures; they make us unique and enrich our lives.
I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year; grad school, dayjob, book deadlines, and audio editing take priority. To those who are taking on the writing challenge: rev up your outlines, lay in your coffee supply, and ready your playlists. NaNoWriMo is coming.