Get it on the page
By Benjamin Howard, Columnist
So, someone thinks that NaNoWriMo is terrible. Well, I hope he’s got all his word‑warriors in formation so that my superior opinion can crush them all in a neat little row. Long have my thoughts forged and baked in the bellows of wordsmithery, and so by the sharper sentence shall my foe be vanquished!
So, we are arguing quality over quantity, right? Many readers right now are likely thinking: “50,000 words in a month? Anything that rushed is gonna be terrible!” That’s a good point, but remember that those 50,000 words are only making up the first half of a novel, and the first draft at that. It’s been said before: writing is rewriting. It’s only a first draft, so the writer will have plenty of editing to do—whether the draft was pumped out in a month, or many. I bet that the likes of Renoir and Rafael started out scribbling in crayon like everyone else before they became masters, and I doubt it’s much different for novelists. A writer’s first crack at a novel will likely turn out terribly, so why not get it over with as quickly as possible?
There’s also a theory that the faster one writes, the better the result. I’m not sure how much credence there is to this claim, but apparently the passion of a writer (or any artist for that matter) is tapped into more easily when one writes quickly, without thinking. When talking about song‑writing in the documentary Under the Influence, the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said, “You can go in with everything sort of planned, and it just doesn’t click.” Perhaps sometimes the best thing to do is simply to do, and maybe the desire to create perfection in the first few keystrokes can actually inhibit creativity. On top of that, there are many authors who wrote great works rather quickly, the prime example being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was written in just six days. Stephen King, a writer who has somehow managed to stay relevant for over 40 years, says that his first drafts are written in three months or less; being that NaNoWriMo only requires about the first half of a novel to be written by November 30, that seems about in line with King’s work ethic.
Ultimately, anything that encourages a writer to get off his ass and write is doing a great service. Most so‑called aspiring writers have never finished a novel, and probably have never made it to 50,ooo words. Some people need a kick in the butt to get going, and NaNoWriMo does that for many writers. Whatever helps a writer get from page one to “THE END” is invaluable. Ya done good NaNoWriMo, ya done good.