I think the biggest misconception about NaNoWriMo is that you will write a fully publishable novel in 30 days. I think that’s why a lot of established authors look down their noses at NaNoWriMo as ‘beneath them’ or as silly and maybe even asinine.
Bully for them. Jerks that they are. NaNo has its issues; the biggest of which is tricking the writer into thinking that 30 days and nights of abandon (literary, you dirty birds!) makes for one publishable book.
But NaNo has many benefits. The one I’m most thankful for is the automatic turn-off of the inner editor. Words, once you get going, just come and come and come and come with no rhyme or reason and the story is built. It’s beautiful pausing every now and again and checking on my word count, plugging the words into the NaNo counter, and seeing that little bar go up. It’s a rewarding feeling because, even though I know what I’ve written is complete and utter shite, I’m still getting words on paper.
And then there’s the paradox. What I’m writing is absolute shite. It is. It’s all whiny and angsty, and there’s next to no character development and, oh my God can we talk about the lack-of-action scenes? I literally have to hand Bella the ticket to getting herself out of a situation so I can move on with the story and make the next thing happen.
Which is liberating. Every writer out there, any person who writes that is worth their salt will tell you about not doing that. About making the characters work to get what they want about story arcs and plot holes and all that stuff meant to make you into a better writer.
And you know what? They are absolutely right. You should listen to them. In every way you should strive to make yourself better as a writer and learn your craft as well as you can because without it, you’ll be a shit writer.
Except with NaNo.
Because NaNo is a frakking draft.
It’s terrible, absolutely horrible writing. I should be strung up by my thumbs for every writing rule I’m breaking. All for the sake of 50k and ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo.
But I’m doing it. And I’m enjoying it. I both love and hate my characters. I hate Bella because she seems so weak right now. Shawn, her half-brother, because oh my dear Jesus H.G. Wells he’s annoying and angsty, Alice because I know the game she’s playing, and I’m not entirely sure which ending I’m going to go with. Do I do the happy ending with the ‘awww’ moment and maybe a little bit of tears. Or do I do the happy-ish ending (because, up your arse, Disney) and give myself a little wiggle room and really redeem Bella as a character?
I’m torn between my endings. Not for my distaste of my characters. They’ll grow with the drafts. The ending I need to be solid so I don’t completely go the other way when I edit.
And when I edit, I know I’m going to get rid of over 50% of the manuscript I’m not even done with yet. Because when I edit, I’m a writer with all of the rules in place. I’m a writer who knows a fair bit about her craft and will mold the story so I’m not handing my characters everything on a silver platter. And I’ll be good.
Right now, I’m bad. And I’m enjoying it. Because, deep down inside the crap that I have spewed over the last twelve days is a gem of a story. It’s in there somewhere, it’s inspired by Doctor Who, and there is a twist that I’m toying with so I can combine two stories I’ve wanted to tell into one book, and it’s all really exciting.
But it’s shite.
But that’s okay.
I mean, never mind that my writing partner and I had to hog tie our inner editors and shove them far, deep down into the basement, so we can’t hear them scream obscenities.
Never mind that. They’ll get over it.
The whole point of NaNo is to get words on paper (screen) and then hide them away for a few months.
When you go back to the words, when you edit, that’s when the real magic happens.