Why I Hate National Novel Writing Month, and Why You Should Too

Edit: Instead of reading this old thing, why don't you read How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Accept NaNoWriMo?

So November is "National Novel Writing Month", where people are challenged to write a complete 50,000 word novel in one month. The concept owes it's origins to the 24-hour Comics Day, originally thought up by Scott McCloud (of Understanding Comics fame), though the stated purposes of these two challenges could not be more divergent. The 24-Hour comic was invented because Scott McCloud was dismayed at how slowly his friend Steve Bissette was working. "I'll bet he could do a full length comic in a day if he wanted to!" He thought. Doing a comic in a day was an exercise to stir up the creative juices in a comics creator, and the 24 hour comic website includes a "Random story seed" section to help you pick something for your exercise. "Is this really the best way to make a great comic?" asks the FAQ. "Probably not, ... but that's not the real goal. The goal is to have the experience of trying. It's a creative exercise that can teach you a lot about what you're capable of." This is noble and interesting.

Rather than being an exercise for creators, "National Novel Writing Month," instead posits itself as a challenge for non-writers. Quoth the website:

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved. ... In 2005, we had over 59,000 participants. Nearly 10,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

I'm not sure why someone "scared away by the time and effort involved" in novel writing would instead want to put themselves through the wringer of doing a whole novel in a month, but the "finish line" metaphor is telling; to the NaNoWriMo people, writing a novel is like running a marathon, something difficult and strenuous that you do only so you can say you did it before you died. (Or rather, like running a marathon has become in the popular imagination; there are those who still lament the passing of the age when marathons were for serious runners only.) I shouldn't have to say that this attitude is repugnant, and pollutes the world with volumes upon volumes of one-off novels by people who don't really care about novel writing. I can't help but wonder out of all those 59,000 people, how many of them will ever write another word. And "NaNoWriMo" is nothing if not oblivious to the absurdity of its own project. Again, from the website:

Katrina, you have proven that no one is too young to write a novel by introducing NaNoWriMo to three- and four-year-olds this year. Could you tell me what it’s like guiding fresh, uninhibited minds through their first NaNoWriMo?

Three- and four-year olds? Are their minds "fresh" and "uninhibited" because they've never heard of a novel before? Next year will we have novel writing fetuses? How about novel writing pets? It'd be such a shame if Fluffy went her whole life without putting pen to paper.

The thing that made McCloud's challenge interesting is that it stemmed exactly from a deep and abiding love of the medium and a desire to see more work in it. As for National Novel Writing Month, they seem to care more about making you feel good than about anything having remotely to do with storytelling. And you'll excuse me if I find that just a little depressing.

UPDATE: For more on this see my post National Novel Writing Month Redux.

Comments

A First Time NaNoer

I did NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and I loved it. I never thought that I was writing the great American novel and I know that what I have written is going to require massive amounts of editing, but I do not think that I am degrading the work of 'actual writers' in any way. I am literally a writer because I have written something. I participated this year becuase I have had a story in my head for well over a year that was always the "If I ever wrote a book...". NaNoWriMo was the push that I needed to get from the thought to the action. It was comforting to know that there are tens of thousands of others out there who all had something to write, and were willing to actually write it. As a high school student, I found the experience wonderfully liberating becuase it was not done for a grade; there is no box to check on my college application. I was doing this for myself and the story, regardless of what other people had to say (or type) about it. Would I love to be published? Yes. Do I honestly believe that it is going to happen? No. I do believe that, with enough hard work editing, this could be the best thing that I have ever written and a major accoplishment. Do not look down on those of us who set a goal and acheived it.

Who the heck cares?

Okay, fine, you think nanowrimo trivializes novels, you think it makes people appreciate writers and novels less. That's all fine and dandy, but who the heck cares? I have participated, I enjoyed it, it got me to write past an intro, something I haven't had the motivation to do before. And you know what? If I enjoyed it, why does it matter? There are tons of people doing it, and I'm pretty sure your little blog thing isn't going to convince anyone who wants to do it to change their mind. I don't think less of writers. I don't consider myself a writer. Heck, I don't even go around telling people I've written a book. I just know I got a good experience out of it, I had fun, I did something I haven't done before, and I fully intend to do it again. And your little rant isn't going to change mine, or anybody's, mind. All is does is show that you only care about yourself. You don't care about all the people who feel like they've achieved something, you don't care about the people who have found joy through this, made friendships, and just had an all around good experience. You only care about the fact that you think it "trivializes novels". And let me ask you a question. Can you honestly say that you've written fifty thousand words in a month? Even if they aren't that great. Fifty thousand words. It's a lot. So, maybe you shouldn't bad mouth something that gives people joy, just because you don't know what it is really all about. Maybe you should actually try it once, and then you can talk.

"Solitary vice"???

If you think you can achieve great literary works by locking yourself away and shutting out people, you're about as far off as you can be. I tried it - and found it to be a struggle. I couldn't keep myself on task. Now that I have made friends with other writers (through Nano and other) I find the experience of writing to be a greater joy than ever - and I've been writing since I was a very young child. Secondly, my guess is, your works have people in them. Much as it is a detestable task, creating realistic characters is only achievable if you actually go out and socialise.

And I think several people have missed the idea of the "50000 word novel". The novel is not complete at fifty thousand words. For many, it has barely started. But to ask beginner writers to try and hit a full-length novel of 80, 90, or 100 thousand words in a month would be ridiculous.

Nano both encourages people who don't think they could manage to write anything if they tried it as a weekend hobby, and it shows the average person just how much effort goes into a novel. If only *everyone* could think of Nano as a positive tool for educating and helping, rather than as a time waster.

Right On Eric!

I have to say. I am 100 % with you.

What a lot of your don't seem to understand is that writers are facing a public perception issue each and every day.

I am a writer (technical, not fiction, which means I've probably written a help file, or FAQ or user guide that you own, at least a part of it) and what I do takes a lot of education, and skill. I have no doubt, being friends with several published novelists, that what they do also requires a lot of skill, if you want to do it well.

But, there are so many people who are 'hobby writers' or 'writers on the side' that people have a hard time seeing writer as a valid career path anymore. They devalue it because they believe that writing as a profession is the same as writing an e-mail or a memo and it is not.

Just to give you an idea, a writer who is doing there job is:

Before writing
- Done extensive research into the topic.
- Most likely done interviews, even if you don't see a quote in the piece.
- Found the hook.
- Written a query letter (the pitch), and in the case of a novelist prepared their sample.
- Found a publication who is interested in printing it.
- Negotiated due date, length and copyright terms.

During Writing
- Managed the level of the reader, both their reading level, and understanding of this topic.
- Managed the size of both individual lines and paragraphs. (This sounds silly to an outsider, but it is a large factor in readability)
- Dealt with proper attribution of sources (unless they wish to remain unknown).
- Ensured that the pacing of the piece is not too slow, or fast, in order to maintain reader interest.
- Dealt rules on English grammar that, if you ever knew them, are probably long forgotten. (Like the instances when split infinitives are OK, and when they are not).
- Adhered to the style guide of the publication. This can be a well known style: APA, MLA, CMS, NY Times, or a special guide that this publication has developed for itself.
- Self edited or re-written.

This process is repeated for each and ever work a professional writer produces. A novelist, may get to back off on research if they create an entirely new world, but then they have to create a world from scratch, and that is not a simple or short thing to do.

People who devalue our craft and chosen profession by implying that anyone can do it in a month, are just perpetuating the same point of view, that writers are hobbyists not professionals, and that is insulting.

Would you like me to come do your taxes? No, you want an accountant. How about defend you in court? No, you want a lawyer. How about treat your illnesses? Oh, you want a doctor. Because when you suggest that 'Hobby Novels' are a great idea, then you are suggesting that writers should allow these people to be counted as equals, and that is an inaccurate comparison.

P.S. - Just because Eric has to constantly defend his point of view, does not mean that he explained it badly, just that you are so deeply entrenched in the idea that 'anyone can be a writer' that you cannot pull your head from the sand to see things clearly. Tell me, what are you publishing credits?

Publishing credits = "real" writer?

What about Dan Brown? He has publishing credits and he totally blows. What about Emily Dickinson, who died mostly unpublished. Publishing credits do not a writer make. Additionally, the process you describe above is only one way to approach writing a novel (in this case, an industry-minded approach). What about Sebald's "Rings of Saturn," whose paragraphs stretch for page after page. Thank God he wasn't managing the length of his paragraphs for readability, or we wouldn't have the same book.

And you are correct, I prefer doctors do to my doctoring and I prefer writers, whatever that means, to write the books I read. But I prefer publishers to be the ones to aid in editing and finally publishing books, and we can all agree that sometimes they hit and sometimes they miss. So who are "hobby novelists" hurting? I don't think they claim that "anyone" can write a novel, as many contestants don't finish, and they certainly don't support the idea that anyone can get published and have their novel sit proudly next to one of Dan Browns. And if a contestant is successful and does get their picture on a dust jacket next to DB, are they a writer?

Chill out and do your thing. Struggling to define what a "writer" is and demanding a certain degree of quality is forgetting a rewarding aspect of finishing a long work: finishing. It seems like you are used to the idea of writing for the purpose of being read, which certainly is a great reason to write but not the only one.

The one great thing about crap novels is that they are easy to spot after a few pages. Don't be offended they exist, just move down the shelf.

Not just at the blogger, but

Not just at the blogger, but at all the cynics -

The idea that getting thousands of people exited about writing is somehow damaging to 'The Novel' is frankly ludicrous - particularly in a world where fewer and fewer people read books, in part because of a sense (rightly or wrongly) of the elitism and snobbery this article represents. Guess what? Lots of people writing novels for fun - not neccesarily as 'art', but just to see if they can finish it - trivialises nothing. In fact, if it creates fans of 'The Novel', it might just help breathe some life into a dying format.

I'd also like to point out that disqualifying self published authors from the ranks of 'real' writers would disqualify the following -

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Ulysses by James Joyce
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Elements of Style by William Strunk (the book many writers regard as the bible of literary style)

There are many more (including most pre twentieth century authors), but I think you get the point. Please don't cite endorsement by a profit making company as some kind of be all and end all of who gets to call themselves what they are by definition, simply having put pen to paper.

Alright, the thing that just

Alright, the thing that just makes me halt, blink, and shake my head at this whole idea that NaNoWriMo is so awful is the fact that you're assuming that people are just born writers.

Sorry, but that's not true.

Granted, most published writers have a natural talent, but they still had to start somewhere. For me the struggle is just getting the first draft down. NaNoWriMo provides the opportunity and surge to do just that. Does that mean that I wrote my 50K and waltzed merrily off to do something else? . . . No . . . That means I spent the next twelve months editing and critiquing the work of others' before doing it all over again. Three times in a row, three different novels.

In short, NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity to give people a boost up, to help them get it down, get some material to work with. From there the writers (and yes, there are real writers who have actually published their NaNoWriMo novels *gasp*) are able to mold their works and edit them.

"Real" writers do the exact same thing with their first draft. Just because this is an organized event makes it no different whatsoever.

agreed

nanowrimo is a good start for noveling.
esp. because, if anyone received the first pep talk of this year: none of the books that come out of nanowrimo look like the bookstore books. but they're a start. they're still books nonetheless. only after much editing, rewriting, cursing off the manuscript, threatening to delete if off your computer, then more editing can you actually deem it a bookstore book (not that i have experiece. i just kinda assumed that.).

also, being published doesnt deem you (go up a couple posts) as a "writer". your structured bullet points and freaking SCHEDULE makes the whole novel writing process so stiff, i wonder if there's any feeling and emotion left in your books. writing is a passion--it's just something pure that flows out of you (which of course you'll look back on and say 'wtf was i thinking?'). it's not a structurized proof to a geometry equation.

of course nanowrimo doesnt give the promise that everyone walks away your "writers", but it give them that boost, which is where every noted person, no matter of what profession, once started.

Grammar?

Interesting that you know when and how to use a split infinitive but do not use "there" and "their" correctly, as in your phrase "Just to give you an idea, a writer who is doing there job is:" A writer is singular, so it should be his or her job - using there is a lazy and incorrect way of attaining gender neutrality. Also, even if it was correct, it would be "their" - "there" connotes place. By the way, I write for a living too and it is just as difficult to write a well-written e-mail or memo as novel. Shorter, but difficult. Most people are terrible at it.

Um....

Could I ask you why you're trying to make writing look so difficult and boring? If I may be frank I would just like to ask you who the hell do you think you are? I mean yes, you have really good writers, people who take writing seriously and then you have not so great writers but COME ON! When you were learning to write the word 'arrogant' and you accidently spelt it 'arogant' were you immediately told not to ever write again? Of course not! You were told to try again until you got it right. If there were only certain people ever destined to write then people have just wasted about 20 years of your life in school for nothing. Yes, there will be the people who just aren't destined to put pen to paper but that doesn't mean they can't have fun trying.

Basically, National Novel Writing Month challenges ANYBODY to write 50 000 words in 30 days. Honestly, I think it's a cool, stimulating idea. Let people do whatever they want to. You have no control over what others do. So what if a not-so-great writer wants to write and doesn't stick to your strict 'proper' writing regime. It is their God-given right to do so.

Oh! and if you think that being a writer is about your 'publishing credits' then I'm afraid that you aren't a real writer after all. You're what I would call a shallow, illiberal individual. Not all writing has to be done in YOUR technical fixed way. Genres were made for a reason, mate. Don't insult the thousands of writers out there by saying that.

Really?

lol.

More writing by more people is never a bad thing. Are you really so elitist that you wish for people to avoid writing if they're not "serious" about it?

The circulation of ideas and generation of community is important. That NaNoWriMo does not meet your needs is YOUR problem, not NaNoWriMo's. Go create a NaNoWriMo for frigid elitists if you seriously lack the testicular fortitude to deal with us lowly, unclassy, would-be writers.

Alright, I'm going to say

Alright, I'm going to say this one more time in the simplest language I can think of and underline it for you so I can be sure you understand it: NaNoWriMo trivializes novel writing.

God what a bunch of elitist crap! I would hate to be at one of your parties mate. You probably waffle ad naseum on about the wine, what an educated palate you have and wonder what the great unwashed masses are doing!

So what is your criteria for people to write? Should only Phds in English or English literature be allowed to take up the 'serious' and non-trivial business of novel writing?

And dont tell me that I have misunderstood you. I understand what you are saying very clearly. You are saying to all of those people that take up the challenge of writing BECAUSE of NaNoWriMo, you are nothing but trivial, you dont care about novel writing. Well mate let me tell you thats Bullshit, because if you pick up a pen or turn on a computer to write a novel wether it over thirty days or thirty years you obviously care about the novel, you care about writing.

And so what if some of the 59,000 never write another word? What skin is it off your nose? And what if out of that 59,000 we get a Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird from someone who never has written before?

So pull your elitist novel writing, marathon running head in mate. No one is holding a gun to your head to make you read the mountains of 'repugnant' and 'polluting' one off novels.

Oh, Please.

Most people (in the US) begin learning how to write in first grade. Your analogy to writing a symphony or being a mechanic doesn't fly. Nobody learns to write music or fix a car when he's 7 years old. Creative writing is something we have been taught to do in grade school, Jr. high, high school, and for most college students, a couple of semesters in college. How much amateurs and hobbyists devalue a craft is really in the eye of the beholder. If a good writer is threatened by a housewife writing an amateur romance novel, it really says a lot about his self esteem.

It seems like the people who complain about NaNoWriMo are the same people who complain about the dumbing down of society and the creative bankruptcy of the media. So then what's the problem with thousands of people trying to be creative one month out of the year?

Funny you mention 24-hour Comics Day...

As though 24CD *doesn't* trivialize comics as much as some of the folks in the comments claim NaNoWriMo trivializes novels.

As long as people are putting out fanfiction and claiming that their new stick-figure webcomic is the next XKCD, both forms will be 'trivialized' far more than a mere novel-writing or comic-creating marathon could ever cause. In my own quest for literary enlightenment, I started drawing comics BECAUSE my own efforts at writing in general had just felt too easy. And by the time I stopped, I did in fact have about 130,000+ words of the fanfic that "broke the camel's back" -- NanoWrimo, to its credit, only mandates 50k.

Both can be done by children, so it isn't as though there is anything inherently sacred about either project -- there are "professional" ways to do it (the group sessions held in colleges and universities where people stream in, work with pen and ink for several hours, and stream out with something they made on the fly) and amateur (Go sit in the coffee shop for a few hours and just draw, baby, draw!), but to suggest that one trivializes the other is a bit ... elitist, to say the least.

They both achieve their goal of encouraging people to write and draw and be somewhat proud of what they've done. There's nothing inherently sacred about 24CD or profane about NaNoWriMo; they're both tools that try to push people into doing things they've never done before.

What's wrong with that?

And just to remind folks, that there's plenty just as much if not more argument about whether the spread of webcomics in general (by opening up the market to amateurs) is good for comics, and we have a name for people who think comics are being ruined and trivialized by opening the field up like this... that name is "Ted Rall".

Does it Matter?

The reasons for joining the fray of NaNoWriMo are as diverse as the individuals who join. Why do you take this bold and enthusiastic challenge as a personal affront to your craft? Who are you to say what makes a good writer, or for that matter a good contest? Don't join if it's not for you, but don't trash what others so obviously enjoy. Don't be a hater, a judger, a poser. Live and let live.

NaNoWriMo is a good idea

I think that that NaNoWriMo is a good idea. I've been stuck in a hump of never really finishing what I start, simply because I don't have the motivation to. This is going to be my first year doing this, but I'm not here to really tell up myself. I'm here to defend a point that you are missing in your article.

Novel writing is something that needs change. Just because there are a lot of people writing a novel, it doesn't mean that many are going to try and get it published, or think that it is the next Great American novel. They are doing it simply because they want the enjoyment of writing something like this.

To the people who have said that NaNoWriMo is something that should be stopped. Look at the word novelty. Do you see it there? Just take off the -ty. What's that word there? I think that it's the word novel. Every once in a while, things need to change, need to get shaken up. Or else it'll remain stagnant and then the novel that you are trying to defend will no longer exist.

Though, writing the novel is only the first step to actually writing it at all. The first draft is a starting point. You can either stay with the first draft or you can COMPLETELY restart it. You can have some people read it and tell you it's amazing or utter crap, the only thing that it comes down to is that someone wrote it.

All these novels that you are saying is the definition of a novel, there really is no one right definition of what a novel is. It's something that is personal, something that they want to share. It's not as if they're going to send out their extremely rough first draft out to the publishers. If they do, then they have no idea what it takes to become a novel. Don't hate something that make you write. Do you hate the professor for writing a paper in a set amount of time? Does that trivialize scholarly work? Do you hate the tabloid, which trivializes magazines and newspapers.

Novel writing needs change, that's one thing that is integral to it. And if getting people to attempt one in a month is how it gets done, then that's how it gets done.

Month writing a novel

I am not certain why you are SO opposed to writing a novel in a month. I am very excited to participate. My two teenagers are also doing it. So what if we do not finish...it is the experience that is important. Life is a journey, not a destination. We just enjoy it along the road of life.

That's funny. This

That's funny. This article/blog was written two years ago, and it'll probably get annual flame comments until this marathon goes out of style or business.

Upon finding this article, I was hoping for factual reasons on what is wrong with the contest (fraudulent? opens one up to a world of spam? etc) but instead read one's opinion only. Not a big loss, but there are worse controversies plaguing the internet.

I am looking forward to attempting my month long 50,000 word mind purging though.

You hate it really?

First, I am not a published author. Second. My childhood dream was to be the next S.E. Hinton. Im now 35 years old and still unpublished. Is it from a lack of talent? No its because; Well, one Im dyslexic and its hard to find people willing to proof read for me. Two, I had never finished anything that was more than 25 pages from beginning to end. I had one book that everyone loved the concept it had twists and turns and no one saw the ending coming but me. My problem... I saw the ending coming.... I saw the way it begain... I saw the way it ended... I couldn't make the two meet in the middle.

NaNoWriMo has however given me a different way to approach it. I was one of the people who finished it. I wrote around 72,000 words last year. Now its in edit and lengthen mode but I finished the story. I wrote something thats actually worth the effort to edit. Im on my third draft now. Maybe one day it will be published maybe it won't. The point is that I finished it. When November comes along again this year I will do it again. And just like last year Ill hit the 50,000 word mark in half the time most of them will because My birthday is Nov 25 and I intend to hit the base goal before my birthday so I can go out and celebrate instead of sitting at home writing. It was an inspirational journey. It really is to bad you don't understand the point in the whole thing. Truth is, there are three kinds of people. Published Writers, Writers wishing to be published, and non writers. The Non writers will never really understand the draw and need to write found within the writers soul, published or otherwise. You seem more interested in your comics than you do in writing. Maybe you should just stick to that.

NaNoWriMo is educational and FUN!

I disagree! The point of NaNo is to have fun while writing a novel and show people who didn't think they could ever do anything like that they can. Its to inspire people who have never written anything near that length before to put pen to paper, and it is amazing. People who say on the forums that thy don't think they can make it will get cheered back to their novels by total strangers! Most people are really supportive.
Loads of people i know hate writing. If children are beginning to write at the age of Four or Five, and learning it can be fun instead of stressful, how is that a bad thing?

Its not useless. Anything that can make people believe in themselves and have more confidence in themselves can't be a bad thing. And if you're looking for physical proof, what about the huge amount of NaNoWriMo Novels which have been published?

It encourages people to stretch themselves, to use their imaginations, to do something they never would have dared do otherwise. And for those people who have trouble actually organising themselves it gives them a deadline and a otivation to write their novel. Many published writers do NaNoWriMo or have had their NaNoWriMo novel's published.

You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion, but it seemed like you only presented negative points and no positive ones.

i am a professional writer

i am a professional writer and teacher of writing. i have an MFA. I have written plays, screenplays, and poetry but i have always been intimidated
to write a novel for some reason. i wanted to take some sort of fiction workshop to get the ball rolling but i found that they are stupid expensive.

so I bought the novel writing kit put out by the same folks that run the month long contest. the kit is helping me along. in two weeks i have written 26,000 words and will easily surpass the 50,000+ by week four and i think after its done, and after some heavy editing it will be a publishable book. i just needed a little encouragement and assistance to start. i am sure there are many others like myself.

more writers is never a bad thing. some people have great stories in them but didnt go to writing programs or they arent immersed in a community of writers. many people have never met a professional writer in their lives. the idea that there are others out there, regular folks who want to do this, shatters the notion that a writer is some white haired guy from vermont with patches on the elbows of his tweed coatthat attended the iowa writers workshop blah blah snooze.

i think this sort of encouragement leads to a more level playing field. all the writers cant all look, act and sound the same. there is some kid on some reservation in North Dakota that has the next "The Stranger" in him and perhaps something like the novel challenge will get it started. Of course it wont be perfect but even Hemmingway said that the first draft is shit. That's why God created editing. but even if it is shit, its still great.

some people will finish and some will be published, many wont, but honestly who cares. People are writing which means people are reading. that is never ever ever a bad thing.

as walter mosely puts it "Writing a novel is a pedestrian work." anybody can tell a great story. nobody, educated or otherwise should control the market on any form of expression and anyone who thinks different is just plain wrong.

To name a few....

Frank McCourt wrote and published his first novel when he was 53 years old. King was a second grade school teacher when 'Carey' was published, Hemingway learned to write in the trenches as a newspaper writer covering accident and crime reports. We have lawyers, military officers, and medical examiners who have become some of the most widely read authors in our time. And good ones at that. I have a young friend who knew she was a writer when she was around 10 years old and has been studying the craft since that time, now at 21 she knows more than I may ever know. But I am a writer. Indeed I am writing at this very moment. Eric stated his opinion and two years later people are still responding to it. Amazing. I guess that makes him a writer too. Even though he uses the word "your" for "you're". Thats what editing is for, I agree. I started writing as a truck driver many years ago. The characters developed out of the strange folk in the country I grew up with, mostly family, and the interesting people I met on the road, my old hunting partners, and people I have met all over the world while traveling in some of the less touristed places on the planet. Those characters have been telling me their stories for many years and now I will tell their stories to you. You may read them if you wish. The writing challenge will be my little game to get me out of my mind on onto paper. King tells us in 'On Writing', to be a writer you have to be a reader, and you must write. My dear friend who is a retired journalist and political commentator who was discovered by a newspaper editor while she worked there in the mail room explained it to me like this, "you want to be a writer? Sit your ass down and write". I will take her advice, 50,000 words in 30 days. No formal education to guide me, but dozens of authors quoted in "Modern Writer's Workshop" telling me, just write, let the characters tell you their story, get it down on paper. What I do will not diminish the work of Melville, Clancey, or Kerouak. It will not shut the doors on the next Grisham novel or keep myself from buying it. I am just a stone mason, turned truck driver, turned Occupational Therapist, writing his stories and enjoying his life. I will learn to edit and re-write, know when to throw it away or fix it, and most importantly, I will write. By the way, King threw 'Carey' in the trashcan, his wife retrieved it and read it and assured him that it wasn't trash, just fix the bad parts and tell the story. Aren't we glad she did?Like him or not, he is a part of our lexicon. In his book 'Writing for Children and Other People' Lester says that writers write because they must. They have no choice. Sorry Eric, if that threatens you in some way, but I must. I have waited far too long, and it is time.

Wow old writer. . .

Your writing has so emotion I was choking back tears. I hope you are no longer waiting to write your stories!

And some in the early 20th

And some in the early 20th century cut their teeth on pulp magazines and later ended up writing great novels in later years.

Feeling good is a bad thing?

"As for National Novel Writing Month, they seem to care more about making you feel good than about anything having
remotely to do with storytelling. And you'll excuse me if I find that just a little depressing."

Ummm...you find it depressing that someone cares about making you feel good? What's wrong with making people feel good? Isn't feeling good the whole point of life? Or did you come here just to see how depressed you could be? I think maybe you'd be better off if you learned how to chill out and just find something that makes YOU feel good ;)

Loosen up

It's suppose to be for fun. If you have the time and the want, then you do it. Just like anything else in the world. Why be pointlessly negitive about something that can only breed good?

This month is just a fun celebration. What's next? Bashing African American History Month?

Nanowrimo

I am a serious writer who joined Nanowrimo so I could apply myself. I found it very supportive and energetic. For most people, true, it is like the difference between a home movie and a Hollywood production. As far as children go, they don't write full length novels. They set their own amount of words. And on a personal note, I believe I may have been composing stories as a fetus. Or at least since then.

The care-free atmosphere helps. Why shouldn't anyone be able to give it a shot? One novel composed during NaNoWriMo made the NY Times bestseller list.

And as to why just anyone would take it on after being intimidated by it, Nano gives them a place where people feel thay can face these reservations.

I disagree. NaNoWriMo is inspirational!

NaNoWriMo ecourages people who never would have thought of writing before to do it. It inspires people, it brings out the creative juices in people. I don't understand why this is a bad thing!
Some of them will be rubbish, and won't ever be fixed. They'll forget about them after that joyful month of creativity. But it will have shown them that they are capable of doing much more then they ever dreamed!
Just because someone isn't a full time author doesn't mean they can't write otherwise. I suppose you also have a problem with the companies who publish poetry written by children in schools?
No one, unless they are very dense, is going to finish November and assume they have a perfect novel in front of them. Some people will leave it with a sense of achievement which will stay with them forever, even if they leave their stories in some forgotten file on their computer never to be perused again.
Others, however, will be aspiring writers who want to share the stories they write with others. NaNoWriMo will, for them, help them to forget Writer's Block and distractions and simply write for a whole month. It will give them the motivation they need to keep going.
Some may send their novels, full of mistakes and bad writing, off to a publishers straight away. These are NOT going to be publishe. No one would buy them, and no publisher would be willing to publish them.
But most of the ones who actually plan to be authors will edit carefully. No first Draft of a novel is ever perfect, and anyone who thinks their first draft is perfect is kidding themselves. Novels written in plenty of time may be just as bad as the NaNoWriMo ones. All novels need to be edited thoroughly before even thinking of sending them to a publisher, and NaNoWriMo novels are no exception.
After 30 days, no one will have produced a Professional level masterpiece. But many authors will spend far longer on novels and the result will be just as bad. They have to edit carefully too.
Now, imagine. If you had a full time job, or if you were a single mum with toddlers, do you think you'd have time to write a novel?
No, you probably wouldn't. If they have always wanted to put their ideas down on paper and hear stories of writers spending ages on novels, they'll assume they have no chance of ever finishing a story. NaNoWriMo might give them the motivation needed to actually start writing and organise themselves.
No one is saying the novel will be finished after 30 days. No novel is finished after all you've done is written it down. It all needs editing, NaNoWriMo or not.
I do realise i have repeated myself a lot on this comment. Sorry. This is just how it seems to me.
Anyone can write a novel, but that doesn't mean they can write a good one. And no one can write a perfect novel on their first try.
If this is encouraging people to actually write and to realise writing can be fun instead of stressful, it can't be a bad thing. At least, not in my opinion. It isn't turning them all into perfect authors, but it encourages them to do something they never thought was possible. It encourages them to reach outside the dull reality of life and delve into realms of magic, aliens, or even what could be other people's reality.
It shows them that they are capable of doing whatever they want with their lives. I don't think this can be seen as a bad thing.
Getting new people to write doesn't trivialize novel writing. It even says on the site that no first draft is going to be ready for publication. NaNoWriMo doesn't mean an increase in bad novels, it means an increase in joy, writing, creativty and GOOD novels.
Thank you for reading this!

24 Hour comics is just the artists NaNoWriMo.

"The 24-Hour comic was invented because Scott McCloud was dismayed at how slowly his friend Steve Bissette was working. "I'll bet he could do a full length comic in a day if he wanted to!" He thought. Doing a comic in a day was an exercise to stir up the creative juices in a comics creator, and the 24 hour comic website includes a "Random story seed" section to help you pick something for your exercise. "Is this really the best way to make a great comic?" asks the FAQ. "Probably not, ... but that's not the real goal. The goal is to have the experience of trying. It's a creative exercise that can teach you a lot about what you're capable of." This is noble and interesting."
Similarities.....
1. NaNoWriMo was thought up for many reasons. One of these is that professional authors take too long writing novels.
2. There are threads on NaNo which help people invent stories. They don't, however, give you a story just to add your own touches to. Surely it's better to invent your own story, rather then just use somebody else's?
3. To Quote the NaNoWriMo website: Why are you doing this? What do you get out of it?
" NaNoWriMo is all about the magical power of deadlines. Give someone a goal and a goal-minded community and miracles are bound to happen. Pies will be eaten at amazing rates. Alfalfa will be harvested like never before. And novels will be written in a month.

Part of the reason we organize NaNoWriMo is just to get a book written. We love the fringe benefits accrued to novelists. For one month out of the year, we can stew and storm, and make a huge mess of our apartments and drink lots of coffee at odd hours. And we can do all of these things loudly, in front of people. As satisfying as it is to reach deep within yourself and pull out an unexpectedly passable work of art, it is equally (if not more) satisfying to be able to dramatize the process at social gatherings.

But that artsy drama window is woefully short. The other reason we do NaNoWriMo is because the glow from making big, messy art, and watching others make big, messy art, lasts for a long, long time. The act of sustained creation does bizarre, wonderful things to you. It changes the way you read. And changes, a little bit, your sense of self. We like that."
Which, summed up, means that it may not create a perfect novel, but it will teach you a lot about what you're capable of. Pretty much excatly what the 24 Hour Comics Day FAQ said, just in more words.
4.Isn't it interesting to see if you can write a novel in a month? If it's noble to write a comic in a day, surely its just as noble to give up a whole month to the art of writing.

NaNoWriMo encourages ordinary people to show what they're capable of. It isn't just for professional authors, becasue if we had no new authors in the world then eventually we would have no authors. Even the most popular authors were amateur once. If we listened to your elitist speech, there would be no writing or reading in the world except a few people who you consider Professional. And when they gave up writing, or died, there would be no more writing and no more books. If no one was allowed to invent their own fantasy worlds, I don't think they'd be as keen to read about somebody else's.

Agreeing to Disagree

I am highly amused by your post.

First off, we are going to agree to disagree. You are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine. If you disagree with that universal statement, then bigger issues are present that cannot be discussed civilly much less resolved on these forums. :) But I am going to throw my two-bits in, because every good discussion needs to have both sides of the coin.

Yes, the first draft will be crap. But then, all first drafts of stories will be crap whether you are writing in a month deadline or not. I have been writing for twenty years. Without fail, my least favorite but amusing part is looking at a draft that has been left alone for a couple of months and making comments. I never knew I could be that snarky- oh wait, yes I can. I write satire, never mind.

As for feeling good . . . NaNoWriMo does have the best virtual writing community out there that I have seen. Notice I said "I". The few communities that I ventured in turned out to be very petty and turned me off from virtual writing communities. Granted, this does not stand for all virtual writing communities. I may have stumbled from bad apple to a basket of rotten apples with Black Plague infested flies. That is a possibility. My point though, for anyone, writing is not an easy task. Like any medium, you never realize exactly how much work goes into it until you are drowning in it. The actual writing is only 5% and the rest is wondering why you wrote that in the first place aka editing. Enthusiasm, such as found on the NaNoWriMo community, is needed to get through that. For a new person that is starting out, that enthusiasm I wager is needed ten fold. I think it is helpful in giving them a chance to try something and then decided if they want to go in it for the long haul. You are probably right that some people may not write again. But the only way to be sure of that is to wait several decades until their life span is over and then we can see who won that wager. (I am betting twenty bucks :). ) But for those who do write, NaNoWriMo is an eye opening experience. They have just realized they are masochistic like the rest of us. For more experienced writers, it provides the opportunity to cut loose. We tend to favor particular genres during our writing careers. Here is an opportunity to find out how bad you are at writing erotica or suddenly realize that sci-fi can be a blast to write after all. But the greatest benefit is the mental vacation and that is experienced by writers of all stages. The chance to cut loose and be creative. That is what writing is about in my book. Too often, myself included, we get caught up that "art" must be viewed. Writing is not outlines, pacing and that darn synopsis of doom. It is about passion and experiencing a tale even if that tale never seen by another person. And from my experiences, NaNoWriMo does do that.

Poster's Bio to give more information for any petty flaming from those who wish to embrace their immaturity and need a villain:
I have been writing for the past twenty years. I have over forty full-draft, private manuscripts in various stages of editing and over eighty manuscripts in co-writing. No, I am not published, but I have only been actively trying for the past year and half. I have actively participated in NaNoWriMo since 2005 and plan continue to do so. Two out my previous NaNoWriMo novels are now books that will be submitted hopefully the spring of following year. The third has been absorbed into a co-writing book. Yes, I suck at grammar. No, I don't feel like getting into the fact that someone who loves the act of writing can still be terrible with grammar. I am here for the characterization and plot twists. If you care so much about grammar, how much do you charge per page, and what are your credentials?

What...the Great Unwashed writing novels...

I don't like it. All these people sitting around doing what??? Writing novels??? Sounds like a dangerous crowd to me - if Homeland Security hasn't been notified, they should be!! The next thing you know they'll be buying oil paints and painting pictures, then who will they think they are, Van Gogh? Please.

I have two problems with your

I have two problems with your comment (well, actually I have a lot of problems with it, but I'll only mention 2).
1. You're an idiot. If you feel threatened by people trying something new and possibly finding something they're good at, then you have serious problems. If you have a problem with people having fun, I suggest you see a therapist. Now.
2. Honestly? No. We do not think we are the "next Van Gogh", or that we can just sit down and write a perfect bestseller in one go. It takes a lot of hard work to get a decent novel. But that is why it is called a "first draft" It's a (bleep)ing DRAFT! You go back and rewrite and revise and edit the crap out.

And if that "Homeland Security" coment was supposed to be funny, it wasn't.

response to your problems with my post

I am very sorry to have offended you. I have participated in NaNoWriMo three times and I have a great deal of respect for anyone able to complete a novel in 30 days. It is a personal achievement that few people will ever realize. Most of us know that we are truly amateur writers but we are always trying to get improve. No more than a novice painter with a box of oils believes that he or she will become a great master like Van Gogh do we have any delusions. When I came across this blog I was sort of amazed at some of the animosity that some folks seem to have toward what I view as a quite harmless internet contest. My post was aimed at them, and maybe unfairly. My remark about Homeland Security was unfounded and I retract it here. No one should contact any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency with anything trivial.

LOL And This is What is Wrong With NaNo

Considering that Natalia cannot grasp the simplicity of sarcasm what makes you think the masses can grasp the simplicity of actual writing? Writing actually requires work despite what the NaNo goons are pushing for and though I disagree with the authour of the post I disagree with his naysayers as well. Nano write is for people who are actually going to write seriously and not take the entire thing as a joke. Most of the crap gets sent to publishers, who get so irritaed at said crap that they end up weeding out the flowers with the dandilions.

On the other hand it gives the hopeful somewhere to go; perfeably they could help the masses edit the stuff afterwards, but as usual someone else has to do the dirty work. Then innocent hard working people have to have their dreams crushed as a result.

Mr. Eric Rosenfeild

Cynicism does not make you smart and National Novel Writing Month does undermine your, self-perceived, more serious attempts at writing (I am just guessing you are a writer, could not stomach to read more of your self-righteous blog). Why must you make such an outcry?

We all were once children who entered this world and were introduced to many art forms. As we grew, so did our knowledge of art and our talents within them, if we were lucky. Some of us, due to various reasons (class, family turmoil, poor education, chance, etc.), were not so lucky and either did not have the opportunity to immerse ourselves into these worlds or were denied the experience because of poor self-esteem.

I believe that National Novel Writing Month is there to appeal to all. It is a call to summon writers who are caught in fear and to give them a forum in which they will neither feel intimidated nor feel as though they have failed if they don't meet the word count by November 30th. I believe that the organizational team words the "challenge" as they do with the intention to make the process seem more accessible. The challenge is there to get them started and to give them some real PRACTICE in the art of writing.

I think that if you put this down, then you think that education is only for those who already know what they need to know. Do you not grow in your personal lively arts? Have you not evolved in your works as a writer?

Again, cynicism does not make you smart nor does arrogance make you a better writer.

ITS NOT THAT BAD

NaNoWriMo could be for people who have no interest in writing & it challenges them to do something about it. It could also be for the people who have aspirations to write books but need the movtivation (like me). I did it last year in '07 and finishedin 17 days. The glory of it was amazing (even though I'd only finished half of my novel. I actually finished the whole thing in July of the next year). Point is, it gives you a good start to deal with, so you CAN move on.
It's a fun little project. It adds excitement and a little adrenaline into your life.

As for the volumes of useless novels: how many of those will be published anyway? Why do YOU care? No one is asking you to go read them. The authors will probably print them out at Kinkos and send them to friends and family to croon over during a thanksgiving dinner. Not much more than that.

so just chill.
and stop making people think that you're probably just one of those who didn't have the aptitude or perseverance to make the 50k mark so therefore you must blame it on the project instead of your own idiocracy.

:D enjoy & keep writing

lamentations and revelations

To have used the phrase "those who lament the passage of age when marathons were for serious runners only", have you run a marathon. The fact that thousands upon thousands of people run marathons today versus the hundreds of people who used to run them doesn't take anything away from the marathon, not even one foot, or from the "serious" runners who run them. Running 26 miles IS BEING A SERIOUS RUNNER!!! No matter who you are, what your background, or why you choose to run, if you run 26 miles you are in the category of a serious runner. Go out right now, tonight, and run 6 miles without pause and you will be forced to agree with me while you contemplate what the next 20 miles might feel like. Writers are simply writers. Not all are Pulitzer Prize winners, not all are wealthy, and even the wealthy ones sometimes stink. I personally find that Nicolas Sparks tells good stories but unfortunately ones that are written poorly. I have never found a Larry MacMurtry Novel that I could put down once I started. I own three David Baldacci books that I have started and never finished and all three are New York Times Best Sellers. So what? We read what we like. We write what we think. Walter Russel wrote short stories and plays, built some of the most beautiful buildings in NY, established a University in Virginia, was known internationally in the world of dressage, was a world decorated figure skater, acclaimed organist, discovered two of the elements on the periodic table, and was the official White House portrait painter during the Roosevelt administration and when he retired became a sculptor who created some of the most widely recognized busts and sculptures you have ever seen photos of. So in which of these areas was he a "serious" practioner? Architecture, physics, horsemanship and breeding, education, writing, skating, painting, or sculpting? I am trained in the healing arts, a therapist who helps people regain function or to compensate for permanently lost function following amputations, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and any number of diseases and injuries. Does this automatically disqualify me as a writer? Can I not paint? My photography was once reviewed by a panel of judges at a retreat school who invited me into their "by invitation only" program. Does the fact that I am skilled in working with tile and stone make me less of a therapist? Am I not a "serious" truck driver who once put over 400,000 miles on a truck before the clutch needed replacing? I am many things all at once, a good husband, father, driver, stone crafter, fly fisherman, therapist, and maybe a good story teller and writer. Who knows? But in any event I will write, and whether my writing is Pulitzer material, or trash, I will be a writer. Not everyone enjoys Twain, or Capote, or Wolfe, but each was a writer. And each shared himself with the world and we are the better for them. The next Faulkner could be sitting at home failing to tell his/her great story because, after all, he/she is not a "serious" writer. Eric, I applaud you for having placed the burr under the collective saddles of many would be writers. I will often look back at my detractor and smile, because you spur me on.

At least there's no fee to participate, eh?

I actually did the NanoWhatever last year because I took it as a challenge--could I write a neat, complete, developed novel in only 50,000 words. Well, it was something of a let down. I did manage to write a "novel" (which I'm now using somewhere else), only to discover that ANYONE who submitted 50,000 words of prose was regarded as much of a winner as I was--no structure necessary, no character development, no plot or theme.

So yes, I agree that the effort is not so much for writers as to prove a false point that anyone can write a novel. Maybe a lot of people have novels inside of them waiting to break out, and if this contest serves that purpose, wonderful. But no one can become a writer overnight, and I think the suggestion of such is just ever so insulting to writers who have spent years honing their craft.

No question, writers are not made overnight...

I agree with your premise that writers are not made overnight, and in my case I am participating in this exercise as simply that, an exercise. I work ten hours a day on my job, while raising two children, and have just helped my wife open a retail business. I have always written. A little or a lot. I have never been published and do not expect to be published as a result of NaNoWriMo, but I do hope to have a little fire built under me to attempt to start and finish something. Period. Just start and finish one work, good or bad, and even in the instructions of the exercise you are told that the best you will likely come up with is a first draft. As with any first draft, the structure, plot, and character development will need revision, rewriting, rethinking. I started my work based on a short true story told by a friend who heard it from an aquaintance. Already I have left the "present" setting of the real story to travel to the historical setting of the people who's lives intersect to bring about the events in the real story. I am being carried along with characters who I have yet to meet, but joyfully will meet as I write and discover them. It is why I write, not to become an "overnight" writer, but because I am a writer who's life has gotten in the way of my true path. Spending years honing my craft has involved reading inumerable books (you should see my house), and, yes, living, experiencing, and learing about life. Now the stories come out that rich amalgam of experience. May your words come freely, and your stories be heard by many.

Writing 50,000 words in one

Writing 50,000 words in one month is tough. Some professional writers have said that they whip out 60K to 75K a month on average, which isn't much more than the 50K. For an average writer to go out and hit 50K in a month is asking a lot. It's not expected to be well structured. It's expected to resemble a first draft. Are they winners? If you consider the effort people put into it while going to school or working a full time job, raising kids, paying bills, etc, then I would say they won something.

"I actually did the

"I actually did the NanoWhatever last year because I took it as a challenge--could I write a neat, complete, developed novel in only 50,000 words. " You didn't read further than the registration page then, huh?

Yes, Writing A Novel Is Hard

At the risk of looking foolish for replying to a two year old posting...

I am doing my fifth NaNoWriMo for the simple reason that each one teaches me something. The first year taught me that novel writing is hard. Really hard, in several dimensions, if you want to be any good at all. It's given me a far higher appreciation of those writers who are worth reading, and far less tolerance for some of the poorly written junk between (mostly paperback) covers.

The second year taught me that a writer can invent a world from whole cloth, but that world, and the people in it, must still be believable. No, you can't read it. It's got a great premise but a weak third act.

The third year taught me I may not have the need to write, have that bedrock author's compulsion, that drive, nearly enough to ever write anything publishable. It taught me that opening a vein to write (Red Smith's advice) is incredibly painful if you haven't the courage to cauterize the wound with your words.

The fourth year taught me that with enough structure underneath them, sometimes the characters will stand up and start speaking for themselves, and the writer is just there to take dictation. Only sometimes, though.

I have heard from several respectable, midlist writers that the only way they learned to write well was to write a lot of crappy stuff first. That's perhaps the value of NaNoWriMo, that it frees people to write really crappy stuff as a necessary step toward becoming better.

My qualifications? Love of language, love of literature. My job often requires writing clear, concise specifications. Writing fewer words well is a hard talent to acquire, too.

NaNoMo

Wow, you made your judgement about NaNoMo without ever truly bothering to understand what it's for. It is remarkably similar to what the 24 hour Comic is for. To stir the creative juices and free oneself from all the critical factors that keep us from creating. The truth is, after several days of focused creation, artists and non-artists alike will be surprised at how their inner creativity takes over, flying them to places they couldn't have imagined.

Every response you've given here to people who embrace NaNoMo reveals a person unwilling to investigate and understand something they would never do. I am professional writer who makes a good living supporting myself and my family by crafting words on a deadline. And yet I never tackled a novel because it seemed unattainable. I didn't think of myself as that type of writer.

The word count is simply the mountain. how I climb it is up to me. I would never have realized I was capable of this if Nanomo hadn't replaced the fear with fun.

Let go of the fear and judgement friend. You're too young to be so bitter.

I'm really not sure why you

I'm really not sure why you find NaNoWriMo so offensive, as though you were a professional writer who is in some way being demeaned by it.

Get real! You are not a 'real' writer, either, but the internet has given you your forum, so get the hell over yourself! I looked at your resume, and all your publishing experience appears to be the virtual equivalent of vanity publishing; you publish online. Anyone can publish online, so why do you have this incredible sense of superiority over those who take the challenge of NaNoWriMo? As someone who is actually a professional writer and editor, published in actual print, I don't care if amateurs decide to write their asses off. That doesn't mean they will pollute the world with their flotsam, as you seem to fear. They most likely won't publish. On the other hand, some award-winning fiction has originated with NaNoWriMo. Professionals and beginners take part in NaNoWriMo.

I decided to try it this year because I have a problem getting to the end, moving beyond certain problems that arise. I decided I would use my competitive nature and this challenge as an incentive. And it worked. Whether this novel will be published remains to be seen. If it does ever hit the shelves, as with almost any other novel, that first draft that was written in a month won't be entirely recognizable as that book on the store shelves.

Oh, and for your information, there are a great number of equivalent challenges that encourage both amateurs and professionals to produce something, whether a novel or a symphony. We just had one in Canada for the new Hockey Night in Canada theme song. I believe the winner was not a professional. That's the beauty of democracy; we don't limit everything to certain classes or castes. We allow all to try, and those who prove worthy will be the ones with the prizes. The prize may simply be a finished novel of questionable quality, written in a month, or a published novel, after much editing. There probably is a 'write a symphony' challenge as well. These contests allow amateur composers or novelists the chance to discover the ability to produce something wonderful to deadline, and perhaps a new profession. The rest will go their merry ways, or work at their craft until they are good enough, even for snobs like you. Be thankful that in the meantime no-one is forcing you to read them or listen to their music. I agree, there is enough crap out there, much of it produced during such challenges.

You really should get off your high horse and stop worrying about what other people do, especially when it has no effect on you.

Ah, this was written two

Ah, this was written two years ago, and everything has been said, but I simply can't help but throw my three points in here.

1. I'm sixteen years old. There's a fair chance that anything I write in great length could be termed as bad fiction. If I sit around waiting to magically become Hemingway when I reach an appropriate age and skill, I will maybe reach an appropriate age, but, without the practice that a project like NaNoWriMo gives, there's no chance I would have the skill. You don't just become a serious novelist, from what I hear. You usually end up writing marvelously large amounts of shit beforehand.

2. the point of NaNoWriMo is to reach the end of November with a rough draft. Key word rough. It gives writers (and I feel like I can actively use the term writers to describe the participants in NaNoWriMo, as they are, in fact, writing) a chance to get out plotlines and characters and settings in one fail swoop and then add on to it with more careful writing. It's not a method to produce great fiction, but, maybe, it's the beginning of one. And, I have to say, if you take out all of the seemingly good parts of any of my previous projects, then it comes up to a lot more good fiction that I ever would have written in a month, even mixed in with all of the bad.

3. Out of all of things you've said, I find that the least true is that these people don't care about novel writing. People who set out to write a novel, even a short novel in a short amount of time, are people who love both the concept of writing a novel and novels themselves. You don't virtually give up a month of free time on a whim, particularly during the holidays. I have always wanted to write, and the efforts of Chris Baty and the NaNoWriMo community have told me that I might not be good yet, but someday, maybe many Novembers from now, I could be one of those success stories.

Stop being a pretentious ass and listen to what we're saying.

I have been a non-professional writer since I was nine. I did NaNoWriMo twice and not only did those two times produce my longest yet works, my skill improved greatly.

Are you saying that some people aren't good enough to write anything? Maybe Mozart's parents shouldn't have introduced him to music so early. How could he do anything worthwhile? Maybe Shakespeare should never have started writing. After all, at one point he had never written a word in his life. I realize these are very exaggerated metaphors and most likely nobody participating in NaNoWriMo actually will have their kind of skill, but you seem to be missing a large point.

Everybody was an amateur at some point! Everybody! Maybe a four-year-old has a beautiful story to tell. Maybe a fifty-year-old grocer has a beautiful story to tell. Maybe a twenty-year-old who dropped out of high school has a beautiful story to tell. Maybe I do. Should I stop writing just because I'm not good enough? That doesn't make any sense! If anything, I should write more because I'm not good enough. Practice makes— well, not perfect, but closer and closer every time.

You say, 'You don't "start" a mechanic and then after a month of writing walk away a writer. You're someone who's made a decision to make writing part of your life, and then you're a mechanic and a writer. And that's different.' Are you really going to make a huge fuss because Chris Baty said something poetic?

NaNoWriMo might trivialize novel writing if you just read about it and never do it, but once you do it you'll never see a novel the same way. You'll know how hard it is to write that much and get more than one good sentence out of it.

You say, '"Trying your hand" at writing fiction and writing a whole novel (in a month, no less) are not quite the same thing.' Are you saying that when we attempt NaNoWriMo, we're trying to be published authors right off the bat? Because that is not true.

One of the funniest things

One of the funniest things about this post is that even before I got to the body of your complaint, there was an advertisement saying, and I quote, "Write your book in under 28 days flat..." National Novel Writing Month at least gives us 30.

~"As for National Novel Writing Month, they seem to care more about making you feel good than about anything having remotely to do with storytelling."

If NaNoWriMo were truly just about making yourself feel good, then it is doing a bang-up job of it. Nothing like 30 days of writer's block, carpal tunnel syndrome and cynics sneering at our inadequacy, all on top of sleep deprivation to make you feel on top of the world, you know what I mean?

The value of NaNo for a

The value of NaNo for a learner writer is to push past the stage when you write something... then look at it... then delete it and write it again...then look at it.... then delete it....then put your head in your hands and think 'I can't write.' Dave Gorman describes this process with painful accuracy at the beginning of his 'Googlewhack adventure' book. He fails to write his novel.

What NaNo does is encourage you to push past the introspection and self-criticism and become more playful, more lighthearted about what you write. It also teaches you the truth of Ernest Hemingway's quote that 'the first draft of everything is sh*t'

Writing is an odd pastime. When you say 'I'm writing', people immediately ask you why you're not yet published. If you say 'I'm playing tennis', no-one enquires why you're not competing at Wimbledon or the US Open next summer. I can see that in moments of quiet desperation at never being taken seriously a writer might resent those people having fun writing crazy stories... but it's a stark comparison to top tennis players who without exception want to see more people playing tennis 'for fun', not less.

NaNo is huge fun, but it also increases my respect for great writers, it doesn't diminish it.

"Alright, I'm going to say

"Alright, I'm going to say this one more time in the simplest language I can think of and underline it for you so I can be sure you understand it: NaNoWriMo trivializes novel writing."

Alright, Eric, I'm going to say this in the simplest language I can think of and underline it for you, and I still won't be sure you understand it: You are not being misunderstood. We are all just disagreeing with you.

How?

NANOWRIMO is a great tool and just becuase you dont like doesnt mean its not good for instance say that there is one teenage girl out there that wants to write she loves writing she writes poems stories songs and she is involved in writing songs for an aspiring band..
Is she stupid for doing the nanowrimo?
NO!!!
its a challenge and you are just afraid of challenge if you think it is stupid in fact it is a great thing that was created to help show people the pressure of writing a novel adn if you really work at it and understand the promise you can complete it it was not a knock off from the 24 hour comic trust me i know!
This is a great program and until you try it do not knock it!