Monday, October 24, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Not Everyone Is A Writer

November starts the annual National Novel Writing Month event and you can expect hundreds of first time novelists (and just about anyone who thinks they have a story to tell) to begin churning out thousands of words in the hopes they can complete a novel in a month.

This isn't the first time I've written about NaNoWriMo. I've expressed my disdain for the event because I feel it does an injustice to the craft, the ART, of writing. It's great if you can put down 30,000 words of a novel, whether it takes you a month, a year or a decade. But just because you compile thousands of words doesn't mean you have written a novel.

Or that your novel is worth reading.

In fact there are thousands and thousands of 'novelists' out there and thousands more 'novels' gathering dust on bookshelves and in discount bins across the country and around the world. This is due to the fact that although everyone might have a story to tell, not everyone knows how to tell their story in a way which is pleasant for the reader.

I suppose there is value in the process, however. Any amount of writing is good practice for people who want to write stories, but I still firmly believe not everyone can be a writer. Just as not everyone can paint a masterpiece, or sculpt a block of marble or design a stunning dress.

It is long past time that people recognize writing is more than just having good grammar or the ability to spell. Weaving a story is an art; a well-defined art which only a select few possess. This is what makes Stephen King and Dan Brown and Shakespeare something more than simple word processors. They are artists who use words to create their pictures instead of paint or clay. To expect that composing a novel in 30 days makes you something other than a quick typist and a good speller is simply fooling yourself.

Now, this doesn't mean you shouldn't try. I encourage you to give it your best shot and see what happens. It certainly can't hurt, I suppose. As long as you remember than it isn't the number of words you compile which makes you a writer. It is your ability to tell a great story.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) gives writers an opportunity to complete a novel of their own.
After hearing Merrimack Public Library participated in this event, the city library decided to start a branch, led by Sherry Evans, head of public services at the library, and librarian Heather Armitage.
NaNoWriMo is held each November, and writers are given space in which to create a novel in 30 days. The partnership with libraries is called Come Write In.
A kickoff will be held at the library from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, with food provided by Flatbread Co. An online forum in which writers can share ideas will be introduced at the kickoff. A Writer's Block Party will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 15, when Hallie Ephron, author of "Never Tell a Lie," will speak.
Each Tuesday of the month, the library's Hilton Garden Inn Room will be transformed into a writer's cafe from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The room will feature power cords for writers' laptops, snacks and a procrastination station filled with writing books for participants to peruse.
"The Seacoast is so rich with writers," Evans said. "We just want it to be celebratory."
Click here to read about NaNoWriMo in Portsmouth.

If you participate in NaNoWriMo send us a link. We would be happy to promote your hard work!


C.W. LaSart said...

Bravo! I feel the EXACT same way. I think most successful writers are driven to write. They have no choice. The part of NaNoWriMo that bugs me the most, is when people brag about winning it. What do you win? Nothing. Now I have a lot of friends who participate and that is fine with me, but it always surprises me how many of them give me hell for NOT participating. Why not, they ask. Because I don't need it. And I don't believe in forced writing. Excellent post!

Ruth Madison said...

I'm already a writer. But I enjoy NaNo. I use it to give myself an extra push and define my own challenges.

Jerry Battiste said...

I would at least like a cookie if I finish a novel in a month! :-)

Fact is, I believe in quality over quantity.

Rachael said...

I think the community that it forms is really great.

I get what you're saying, it's sort of the same argument against poetry slams--why make unnecessary competition over a really subjective subject?

But the bottom line is the same, it gets people into writing/reading that maybe wouldn't have otherwise. And so what if it needs some arbitrary measure of success? It's just a cool way to kickstart the writing process. And for those of us who are out of our creative writing classes in college and on to the real world, it's a small way to reconnect with other writers.

Ruth Madison said...

Quality can come later. I find the editing process is where my best work comes out, but I have to have something to edit first.

I'm a fan of fast first drafts and lengthy edits later.