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

I think your implication that

I think your implication that the written language can and should be appropriated by some special and unspecified few is far more repugnant than some people undertaking a personal challenge that appears to piss you off because you don't want the fruits of it clogging up your internet. It's a foul attitude that tells people who could practice and be trained to nurture a talent they're afraid to abuse and people who just enjoy writing whether or not they're good at it that literature is something too far out of reach and that suspected enjoyment isn't a good enough reason to do something because other people might be better at it or because some external source (you, it would seem) have deemed their appreciation of the novel as an art form lacking and as a result them unworthy.

Your notion of reserving such things only for the serious is what I find depressing. Is fingerpainting only for the toddlers who plan to open their own galleries in lieu of college? Is middle school band reserved for those who plan on playing clubs instead of going to high school?

And I get that it's an internet cliche, but it seems if you want to write about how writing should only be done by professionals, you should check your grammar before you finish.

Pointless.

I have to agree -- I don't get the purpose of NaNoWriMo. If the whole point is quantity over quality, then you're not contributing anything useful. You're just wasting your time. Any semi-literate baboon can string together 50,000 words.

I guess NaNoWriMo just reinforces the truth of Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap.

So you think that people

So you think that people should never do anything just for the fun of it? Interesting idea. I guess I should jut stop reading fiction books cuz they are a waste of time and 'not contributing anything useful.' Or maybe I should stop taking music lessons. It's not like I'm going to be the next Mozart or Michael Jackson, right? I won't be 'contributing anything useful.'

Stop to think about what you've implied.

I guess you just reinforced a quote by Elbert Hubbard: There is no failure except in no longer trying.

You miss the whole point in Nano

National Novel Writing Month started as a way to promote a non profit organization called the Office of Letters and Light based out of Califorina. The monthly event is to give people something fun to do while raising money for the organization. This year we have raised over a half a million dollars. That money will go to help bring literacy and literature to 1000 classrooms in 2010.

Now you are write, a lot of people are writing stories and just having fun with it. They are challanging themselves to try something new. There are others who are writing stories that might or might not be good who will self publish. Then there are people like me who have a story to tell.

The first type are great. Its good to challange yourself. Some of the college students who have won nano have managed to get scholarships from their universities because they put Nano on their application as an extra curicular/social networking/fundraising/community helping endevor. Its good to challange yourself to step out of your own box and if Nano lets people do that, then people like you have no room to complain.

As to throwing more poorly written stories into the universe, The people who self publish would write and self publish regardless of Nano. I know, I have a friend who has written and published two books through Publish America and never once even visited the Nano website. If the people who are going to do this anyway, are using Nano as a way to do it, I say here here. Simply because they also seem to be the ones most likely to donate to the cause. And that Cause is note worthy and vallant.

As for people like me who do it in part to help with fundraising and in part because we have been writing since we were old enough to hold a pencil in our hands and write that short story for some elementary teacher that got us hooked, let me tell you the reasons I do it.

ve been writing short stories for years. But, didn't have the guts to try and become published until recently. Writing is all I have ever wanted to do but I have Dyslexia so it makes it difficult to become published. I couldn't get passed that fact to write a novel. At least not until I found Nano. Once I found nano I realized that I did have longer stories in my soul to tell. And with the help of Nano and a good copy editor I could get them told. Last years endevor was a bad story. I knew it within 20,000 words. I finished the 50k and threw it away. The year before the story was wonderful. I had a great time telling it. I was just beginning the editing process when my father died. He was only 55. So that story just kind of slipped away from me. I am hoping that this years story won't suffer the same fate. That I will find in me the courage to edit and try to publish it with a real publishing house. Without Nano I wouldn't have even bothered to try.

Without Nano, Kids like me would never learn that they can write despite the poor spelling and grammer. Despite all the learning disorders. The office of letters and light does a great service to this world and the writing community. If you don't like the self published stuff don't read it.

I think you misunderstand...

If you've taken the time to look into NaNoWriMo you would see that it's not saying that everyone should try and write a novel for the pure sake of writing a novel and nothing more. Sure, some people are going to do that. But I've done the 24 Hour Comic thing just to say I've done it. I'm not a comic book artist or writer. I am, however, a novelist. It took me more than half a year to finish my first book and it irked me that it took that long. To find NaNoWriMo and have it state implicitly that this is a month to write uninhibited and it doesn't matter if the words aren't great. It's not a month to write a Dickens novel, it's a month to get out all the crazy, in-congruent pieces of story floating around in your mind. Instead of sitting around for three months trying to painstakingly draft your first chapter, you're pushed to write as fast as you can to get these ideas out of your head so that you go back later and rearrange them or edit them or delete them all together and start over.

Yes, some people are going to treat it as if it's something to do just because it's something they've never done. But that's what some people treat 24 Hour Comic day as. And it's also a great way to discover if you have any affinity for writing. Just as, if I found I had a talent and want to work on comic books from 24 Hour Comic, I'd go into that, someone could stumble upon NaNoWriMo and discover they have a talent and want and need for writing. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. At the same time, bored housewives or people who believe they're brilliant or those who just think they have a story and find out they don't might use it because they want to write a novel. There's nothing wrong with that.

Besides, technically it's not a novel if it's 50,000 words. Unless you're writing for young adult or teen books, of course, then that might be acceptable and, even then, the publishers would prefer it 60,000 words.

I understand what you're

I understand what you're trying to do with this. Seriously, I just can't imagine my three year old niece writing a novel, or even any of my siblings or friends for that matter. I get your point with that, but for me, NaNoWriMo is kind of important.

I write a lot, all the time, but I was never able to accomplish something of this size until I discovered NaNoWriMo, and then I found myself able to write a novel in one month, something I had thought I couldn't do. Then, I did Script Frenzy and discovered that I could write a long script in a month too. They have shown me my potential as a writer and have increased my skill and perseverance with writing.

Writing is an art that not everyone can do, but I certainly think that anyone can try it. NaNoWriMo is just a challenge to let people try a new thing. So what if they decide it is not their skill and don't ever write again? What is wrong with trying new things occasionally? I think it would be a great thing if one of my non-writer friends decided to try NaNoWriMo, and I'd be even happier if one of them won it, even if they never wrote another word after it. It's the challenge that's the point of NaNoWriMo, not the actual writing.

What Is Wrong With You

Dude, you have some serious mental problems if you don't like the idea of children writing things. If they write they improve themselves and they strengthen their minds. And I for one don't see anything wrong with novel writing three and four year olds.

I respect your opinion, but

I respect your opinion, but you seem to be misinformed about the NaNoWriMo process. You should know that the novel process is taken seriously, and that no one in their right mind would write a 50.000 word novel if they didn't care about writing. Writing is a priority, happiness is just a consolation prize.

Wow... Really?

I know this is old, but I've stumbled upon it and have a thing or two to say. How exactly, first off, is this any different from your beloved little 24 hour comic? It's not. How exactly is it different?

1.) "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. "

The same goes for NaNoWriMo. Chris has a very deep and abiding love of writing as well. He also wanted, when creating to site to expand the "contest" to more than just his fellow novelist friends, to influence others and encourage them to write a novel.

And, I must say, you do not need to be a "serious writer" to write. You don't have to go into NaNo with the hopes to get published, or to be the next Stephen King, etc. You would be surprised how many people I have met that are NaNo participants who started off not serious but have DISCOVERED a passion for the craft THROUGH NaNo.

2.) "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."

No, you have it wrong. Yes, NaNo encourages you. Encouragement is needed throughout the month. But they care about storytelling as well. Go to the forums and there is plenty of help for your storytelling quarries. It's not all "YOU WROTE A 50K STORY OF NONSENSE WOO GOOD JOB" like you seem to think.

3.) "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. "

Really? Because that is basically the goal of NaNo as well. So why is NaNo not "noble and interesting".

4.) "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""

Writing a 50k novel does the same. You can find many adoptable basic plot ideas in the forums, and in the Young Writer's Program there is a random dare generator you can use when you get writers block.

Wow, yeah. These contests are just sooooooooo different, right?

Oh, and I also know people who participate in *gasp* BOTH of these events. Shocking, right?

Some people have the story stuck in their heads and that little extra boost to get it out. For them, NaNo is perfect. Others just need a challenge for the Hell of it. Who cares?

And, again, for emphasis.... There are people who decided to do NaNo for the challenge, without a true passion for the art, but discovered THROUGH NaNo a devoted passion to writing.

This was good for a laugh.

Well, Eric, I know I'm late for the party, but I just wanted you to know that what you've posted here is your opinion. That's it, that's all. YOUR opinion. You're entitled to it. It's amusing that in the earlier posts you attempted to browbeat folks into seeing things your way. I've read most of the comments and thank God you're in the minority, fella. All that elitist nonsense from you and the few folks who agreed with you really made me laugh. It's like you're easily threatened by the idea of people writing whatever the heck they want to for 30 days. Yeah, most won't finish, and most of it probably is crap.

SO WHAT.

I think two years ago you could have found something better to do with your time than write and post this. I have to admit I came to this article expecting to find that you had uncovered some unspeakable dirt, or fraud. Nope. Nothing like that. So you don't like NaNo? Oh, boo hoo. Sorry, but the tone of your tripe really pulled my sarcasm trigger. Is it just me, but a lot of folks out here get into their own little niche, and then they proceed to bash other people who are merrily doing their own thing, like that comic book chick who dissed fanfiction writers. I guess that comment made her feel better for about five or ten minutes. That's sad. Very sad. I know you and the other snobs are probably praying that NaNo will die and go away. Huh. Doesn't look like it, does it?

I'm already signed up for NaNo. I'll be my first time at this rodeo. Thanks for the laughs. See ya on the other side, bro'!

Ugh

What I find most disturbing is... out of the very SMALL minority of people willing to even mess with stating a contrary view with regards to nanowrimo... (Google: "I hate nanowrimo" or "nanowrimo sucks" to see just how few people have a contrary view) nearly ALL the comments are arguing about how awesome and wonderful it is.

SHUT.

THE.

FUCK.

UP.

You've got your playground already to go on and on about how wonderful it is. In fact, the entire Internet is your oyster right now as you ramble on and on about your stupid wordcount. The rest of us think it's stupid. It's your religious fundamentalist fervor regarding the whole thing that has caused most of us to upgrade to genuine hate and to basically disconnect from most of our previous Internet activity during the month of November every year to avoid it.

If someone doesn't like Nano, leave them alone. Stop trying to convert everyone. NanoWrimo is a stupid non-event. It's an imaginary BS competition that anyone can win by typing or copying and pasting any random string of 50k words. If you need Nano to motivate you to write, then perhaps you aren't a writer and aren't meant to be one. Writers can write without imaginary gold stars. Nano is an exercise in extreme narcissism. The world would be better off with national READING month.

The world already has too many writers. And I absolutely agree that nano devalues the craft of novel writing. Why isn't there a national plumbing month? Then all amateur plumbers could take a plunger to nano novelists' bullshit. And we could do it for a whole month! Wheeeeeeee!

Re: NanoIsLame and original poster

First off, I'd like to say I'm sorry for your failed dreams. You obviously hold some grudge against the community of aspiring writers and therefore seek to lash out against it. Let me guess, your totally serious novel with a sexually repressed main character got rejected and now you seek to take it out on everyone else? What a sad story that is, doll. I hope things get better for you.

Meanwhile, in the real world, there is a group of people who fancy writing and need a little extra push to get it done, what with careers, school and general non-angsty-ness going on. (Or, rather, lots of angst that is then channeled into a fifty-thousand word creative outlet, instead of lashing out on people on the internet.)

To imply that NaNo devalues the craft by claiming it can be seriously done by anyone is understandable, but nonetheless silly. There are very few NaNo participants who don't take writing seriously, else they would not impose upon themselves the daunting task of writing fifty-thousand words in a month. For those who insist that writing novels is only for those who devote their entire lives to it and seek to make anyone who doesn't have their own personal writer's study and stick up their ass about it feel less worthy of simply telling a story, then they have forgotten that at the heart of every writer is a love of words and creativity. If you are a "professional" and don't remember the idyllic charm of simple storytelling when you were younger and first interested in writing, then perhaps it's time you surrender the craft to those of us who still have passion and imagination, and not some elitist agenda to push.

That said, your opinions are noted and thank you for making your very important contribution to the internet. For your congratulatory award, please visit ICanHasCheezBurger.com, as I'm sure you will find like minded people there. =]

A case study in "cool kids" style relational aggression

It's telling how the gleeful positive thinkers always manage to slip in a "better than thou" jab about how their opponents are wrong because they are losers. It really shows the true colors of this subculture. Your first paragraph reads like a miniature case study in relational aggression and projected feelings of self-doubt.

You say: "There are very few NaNo participants who don't take writing seriously, else they would not impose upon themselves the daunting task of writing fifty-thousand words in a month."

The facts say: Most of them fail to hit that 50k mark. To sum up the math, you say "very few" and the facts say "the vast majority." And, since that 50k mark can be hit by simply typing words at random (there are no literary standards in NaNoWriMo) that is a pretty low bar of "seriously" for people to fail to reach. And a pretty low bar of realism for NaNoWriMo's defenders.

You're defending what is rationally indefensible here through clumsy, middle school "Cool Kids Table" style social bullying, denial of easily accessible facts, and sentimental non-sequiturs.

Even though a few serious writers do occasionally get swept up in the groupthink, NaNoWriMo is to serious writing what binge drinking is to wine appreciation. Except it's the lit agents who suffer the hangover in December instead of the binge writers.

That only a small percentage

That only a small percentage of participants finish contradicts your assertion that NaNoWriMo participants don't take it seriously. If they did not take it seriously, then virtually all of them would finish. It would take only seconds to copy and paste 50,000 words.

Wow! Nothing short of a cult following.

I agree with Nanoislame (though perhaps not with his/her choice of words) that there seems to be an irrational fervour and defensiveness on the part of those who support, or perhaps even revere NaNoWrMo! I came to this site as an innocent observer with an open mind simply looking for intelligent feedback. What I found was a tirade of insults, accusations and personal attacks on anyone that dared to question the validity and importance of NaNoWrMo. Until reading through these comments I had given some thought to undertaking this challenge but the supporters of said challenge have irrevocably closed any consideration that I might have had.

Perhaps the original author should have simply entitled his piece "Why I hate NaNoWrMo" (though I'm not sure this would have made much difference) but he made seemingly valid and intelligent points, none of which appeared to be inappropriately personal and certainly none of which justified the wave of personal attack on his integrity, character and craft. "None defend their innocence so loudly as the guilty" to quote Shakespeare and certainly the supporters of NaNoWrMo have shouted to the rooftops on this matter. I have to wonder why this article would have raised so much emotional anx in anyone? Either do it or don't do it but don't make this more than it is. Before reading these comments I thought the idea had some merit as an exercise but the attitude of its supporters has made me feel that I'd rather not be numbered among them.

While there has been a abundance of words thrown into people's faces, it might be helpful for the NaNoWrMo devotees to realize that there are levels of expertise within every human field of endeavour, "elite" is therefore not a dirty word. Also, anyone can of course write anything they wish, but when one says they are a writer, they mean their profession is writing, I think this is widely acknowledged. We do not all make money from our profession but we aim to, I think this is also widely understood. Methinks you do protest too much about this writing competition NaNoWrMo supporters.

If you feel you need to do it or it's just a bit of fun for you then by all means enter, but do not damn the rest of the writing world if they don't agree with you. My opinion of this competition, having investigated it and read these comments, is that it's all a bit, well, fluffy. I do think everyone has a right to try anything they want, and reality TV shows attest to the fact they do just that, but only a few will be competent, less will be good and far fewer will be great. Perhaps this competition, in the end, just serves to prove this point.

Fluffy is a good word...

Magda, one rule of thumb I use is: "Whichever side of an argument has to resort to strawmen first is probably the wrong side." As you point out, the Nanowrimists exploded on this post with a flurry of attacks that fail to adequately address the arguments in it.

When it comes to Nanowrimo, I think the best evidence against it comes from months other than November: agents consistently point out the deluge of writing submissions and queries they endure even without the effect of this annual stunt fiction marathon. As Twitter's infamous EvilWylie put it today: "It's NaNoWriMo! Or, as agents who receive a million hastily written, unedited novels in December call it, 'Amateur Month.'" Most of what gets dumped on an agents' desks is unpublishable, so why exacerbate the problem with a month-long open-mike night? The responsible approach to a bubble market is not to pump it up more.

Bottom line, there are too many wannabe writers and too few readers already. The last thing publishing needs is to encourage the writing aspect of literature. What we should be doing is moving NaNoReaMo up to November so it can compete directly with this well-intentioned but misguided writing fever.

It continues to amaze me that

It continues to amaze me that all these years later, this post continues to draw ire in November.

I love the Idea of a NaNoReaMo.

(Oct 2012) I only saw this as

(Oct 2012) I only saw this as I was referring to NaNo in a letter to a friend and couldn't remember the name. I googled, "novel in a month" and it was one of the top and most inflammatory hits.

Hopefully the word "hate" will not discourage people who have 50,000 words, good, bad, fluffy, inane, obscene, poorly crafted, or whatever from pushing out of their day-to-day envelope and writing them down. Maybe they'll even call themselves, "writers." That will not diminish any of us, even the so-called elite.

You say "Nano is an exercise

You say "Nano is an exercise in extreme narcissism." On, the contrary, it is the exact opposite. It is not narcissistic to think that you can write, it doesn't involve grandiose thoughts of being better than everyone else. It is, however, narcissistic to think that writing should be limited only to a tiny cabal, and in particular, that you are among that cabal. That's like saying that only an elite should be allowed to paint. Art supply stores would close their doors if only an elite few were allowed to paint. Most people who paint produce art that wouldn't sell at a garage sale. But where is the outcry over art supply stores trivializing painting? For some reason, some writers have such fragile egos that their blood boils when someone engages in unauthorized writing. I have noticed that it isn't the most successful writers that complain about NaNoWriMo.

So why should we hate Nanowrimo?

All I can say is that feeling hate for something you don't understand is stupid and thinking others should hate because you hate is even more stupid, but the stupidity that takes the cake is believing that Nano-writers do it to get published...

Nanowrimo is nothing but an exercise, done in many languages. People like me, who don't write in English believe that it should be IntNoWriMo since there is no longer anything "national" about it. We try to turn an idea into 50k words and 50k words is not a novel but a novella, so it is not enough to publish.

Thousands of people enjoy doing it, simply as a challenge. Those few that want to be published, after those 50k words, still have another 12 months (at least) of adding words, reviewing it, etc, etc... And after that a publisher needs to believe in that work. So where is the problem? It is not like all those that reach the goal get or even try to get published.

About those "one-off novels" what is the percentage of those related to NaNoWriMo? Less than 0,01%? One-off novels are and will always be for sale but we cannot blame a simple website that exists since 1999 for those.

Hardly the Truth and Hardly Worth Reading

I've written several novels, am in the process of being published, and most of them were written during November. While it is an interesting challenge for those who have never written a book and want to try for the first time, it gives a goal (a deadline) that many authors thrive for. When the world gets busy (I myself am a Veterinary Student) it's very easy to say "I'll start writing tomorrow," but what NaNoWriMo does is give us one month to say "No, I'm going to do this right now." and allow us to get our work done.

If you're sitting here complaining about the site and the idea of NaNoWriMo, am I to assume you tried and failed? Because I can't fathom how something so simple and innocent that no one is forcing you to participate in could aggrivate you so much that you'd write a blog post trying to get people to share your cynical view on something harmless.

The fact that you took the time to go through the website, pinpoint all the little things that may sound a little strange, such as the infants writing, and then whine about it on the internet is the true waste of time, not NaNoWriMo. You have the opportunity to do something great here, as in informing people and getting ideas across and you waste it on something so insignificant as this.

I think the writers who

I think the writers who actually publish and/or write beyond November are rare in the nanowrimo world.

Read the forums. The majority of people have not been published, are terrible writers, ONLY write in November, and then fail to edit any of their work beyond that.

The original author had it right. Nanowrimos, most of them anyway, seem to not care about the CRAFT of writing a novel. They are typists, not writers, and definately not novelists.

Well okay, but what's wrong

Well okay, but what's wrong with that? A lot of people don't care about the "craft" of painting, or the "craft" of writing poetry, or the "craft" of composing a symphony. But should that stop them from indulging in their hobbies? Should that stop anyone from painting or writing or singing or playing instruments, just because we don't care about the "craft"?

I'm sorry, but it is an innocent hobby for most people and a fun way to practice for the more "serious" people, it's not hurting anyone so I just don't see what all the butthurt is about.

Successful authors don't hate

Successful authors don't hate NaNoWriMo. It's the bitter failures that hate it, who are offended that people try writing. We don't see artists protesting at art supply stores, do we? Why is writing the only artistic endeavor that people get angered by the unwashed masses trying it? Want to make a painting, sing a song or make a sculpture? The professionals will encourage you to do so. But writing, why that's "insulting". Major league baseball players aren't insulted that amateurs go to the local park and play a game. Oh some will compare NaNoWriMo to brain surgery, which is laughable. With brain surgery, there are real standards that we are not capable of judging for ourselves. But with books, we are the judges. When we buy a book, we judge whether it is good or bad. The detractors want to deny that to us, telling us that we aren't able to determine a good book from a bad book, and thus we should be told what to read. Maybe the vast majority of novels produced during NaNoWriMo are absolute crap. So what? The pickup baseball game is probably crap. So is the amateur painting, the amateur sculpture, the amateur singer. I think there is fear that it WON'T produce crap, fear of competition from someone who tries NaNoWriMo and discovers a talent.

Really?

Are you that pretentious of a writer to not see the value in something like this? I'm not sure why you care so much about what these people are doing. Its not like you will ever have to read their novel. And a few get published every year. Which is way cool. Let people have fun trying out something new and stop being such an up-tight asshole.

Is is really so bad?

What's really so bad about getting people to push through whatever keeps them from thinking they can't complete something, including novel writing? If it's bad, so what? It'll never see the light of day. If it's good and can be revised to get better, someone has managed to break through the barrier of self doubt and reminded him or herself that this is a possibility. Of course, revision will then be the next gauntlet; does the writer have what it takes to keep improving to make it something worth a public viewing? As for 3 or 4 year olds, my sons have "books" that they wrote at that age and that gave them a sense of narrative flow, accomplishment, and reinforced their love of books and the imagination. Yes, of course, I helped them, but that in itself was a great activity to share. My 20-something-year-olds don't consider themselves novelists, but they do have a deep and abiding respect for good books. No one's being promised the Pulitzer here and it doesn't diminish the chances of anyone else cranking out good books in more than a month. Lighten up!

I just finished reading a

I just finished reading a novel and it was one of my favorite books ever. I then started doing NaNoWriMo for the first year. They have "pep talks" by "profesional writers" and the first one was from the author of this novel. Turns out it started as a NaNoWriMo novel. So just so that everyone knows. "profesional writers" do NaNoWriMo too. It's not supposed to create a perfect novel but it gives you a backbone to go back and edit.

If anyone wants to read the novel it is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I assumed you would be

I assumed you would be talking about The Night Circus. Fabulous book. Makes me wish my nanowrimo novels were that good.

Excuse Me? Who do you think

Excuse Me? Who do you think you are to criticize NaNoWriMo, especially if you haven't ever done it? I am a 14 year year old, and have just read most the comments below. I get YOUR point exactly, but do YOU get OURS?! You cannot try and convince us that it sucks and expect us to not retaliate.

I want to be a writer, but I've always said more specifically, a published author, when i am older. I started writing last year but was very very slow with it. Now, I've written 33 pages in a month, which is more than I've written ever. This site helped me get started even better, and keep going past my writer's block. Some (most) of the future authors of America and other countries are doing this. That is what we say around on the forums. We stick together and pick each other up, not a bad thing at all! And, yes, i am going to work on and edit my novel in months other than November. It was just a great starting place. Every young writer has to start somewhere, same with every new novelist. Just because they tried to write a certain amount of words in a month doesn't trivialize their novel. And that's all NaNo is- writing a certain amount of words in a month. Encouraging others to expand their horizons. That doesn't trivialize a novel in any way shape or form. If doing anything, it helps a book be written faster.

What if some young writer like me saw your post before doing NaNoWriMo and decided not to try it? What if they were the one who could have wrote the next American Classic, but didn't have any motivation to get past their first writer's block? NaNo does help.
And what if we do write an ok to crap novel and send it in? What harm is in that? I would take from the experience and use it to better my book before I send it in again. Writing requires persistence. And I do intend on sending it on after it's many revisions. And, once I get that first rejection letter I know almost positively will come from what I've heard, my novel will just become better.

There is nothing Trivial about my novel or NaNoWriMo. My novel is my own story, finding a place on paper, just like t would have if not for NaNo, but only slower.
NaNoWriMo does nothing but encourage you to write and write and write. Definitely nothing wrong with that.

So, hater, next time you have an opinion, either keep it to yourself or actually expect all the retaliation your getting.

(By the way, when my novel gets published and I call myself a Published Author, I am specifically thanking NaNo. And there is nothing trivial about an accepted, revised, published novel. Next time, try not to kill young kids dreams. Because I have wanted to be a writer my whole life. I put much esteem to the title, especially Published Author. But i hold no esteem to people who discourage other's writings)

Something worth thinking about

Of course there are many reasons why not to compete in it, but let's be honest there isn't anything as thrilling as NaNoWriMo is. The thing about it is, it's a challenge. It's not something you would want to do had you never written over 10,000 words before- but it's a goal. Once you've completed something like NaNoWriMo the accomplished feeling you get can't be described by words alone whether you're a novelist or not.

If it's not something you want to do, then sure. That's fine, of course it is! However that doesn't mean others don't enjoy what it has to offer and frankly there is no balanced side to this. NaNoWriMo gives so many who wouldn't have ever dreamed of achieving something like 50,000 words in a month a massive achievement.

I think you miss the point of

I think you miss the point of NaNoWriMo. It's almost the exact logic behind the 24 hour comic that led to Nano. I had always wanted to write a novel. I'd started about 7 or 8, but never had the motivation to finish one, until Nano. I wrote a short novel in a month, and it was a huge jumping off point. It's about experience, motivation, inspiration, and if you're lucky you'll make some friends, get to attend writing events, or even come up with a great idea and--who knows??--get published!

You're analogy about a marathon doesn't really help your argument, either. Think about it--marathons may be difficult, and long, and extremely demanding, but they have good points. You got in shape, didn't you?

I agree, 3 and 4 year olds seem a bit young to be working on a novel, and some people stick to the "quantity over quality" a bit too much. However, I think Nanowrimo is mostly a great experience for both authors and those who have never written anything in their life.

Wow. I never thought that I

Wow. I never thought that I would come across someone who is as open mided as you (in case you had not realised- that was sarcasm). NaNoWriMo is a writing programme that gives young teens and young adults the opportunity to write a novel and have fun doing so, with the motivation of a limited time. Teens all over the world participate in this event, as it is the only way to show their passion, and frequently, their potential as serious authors in the future. Not many other places will take the aspirations of anyone under the age of 18 to become a writer seriously, so that is why NaNoWriMo is as popular as it is- it gives people a chance to fufil their dreams. Most people who complete their target spend years after editing and rewriting their novels so that they are presentable for publishers, because they take it seriously. National Novel Writing Month gives people like me a platform for their career. For when they grow up. For the rest of their lives; and I think it is horrendous that anyone would tell a thirteen year-old child that they are crappy writers just because they are four years younger than a leagal adult. Age is but a number.

Just a thought - which is

Just a thought - which is worse: to make an attempt and fail, or to not try at all, and be where you started?
Granted, probably 90% of the stuff that does come out of Nanowrimo is pure junk. And just as well, it's true that some people who do the event realize that they never want to write another word.
But just as well, is that because of Nanowrimo, or in spite of Nanowrimo.
Personally, probably abut 5/6 of the years I've done Nanowrimo has erupted in novels that I never plan on revising. It's true - a lot of the time, you shouldn't expect to write anything "serious" during Nanowrimo. It's just for fun.
On the other hand, I learned a lot about myself during Nanowrimo, and I picked up some good skills. I'd say that it's worth a try if you haven't before - not to go at the face value. Give it a shot before you judge it.
I see your point here, but it can't hurt to give it a try - right?

Silly silly

I understand how demeaning it may feel for serious writers to see their profession or passion being thrown around to the general public. However; in light of the displacement amongst people today and the loss of connection due to social media etc- it seems silly that someone would object to an online writing challenge. Who knows would could be discovered? Think back at Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Although made by novelists, it in itself was created though a writing challenge.
The human mind is capable of so much - and from personal experience, having a deadline often allows for both clarity and flow. Thinking too much and over analyzing is a huge barrier for writers. Break free from that barrier and stop criticizing positive opportunities!

Why you should, too?

"Why I Vote [Republican/Democrat] and Why You Should, Too"

No one but the author ever sees most of the words that are written during NaNo. How on earth does this do enough harm to you to hate it and encourage me to do so as well?

Creative expression is all about the creator, not about the viewer or reader. Creating under a disciplined, high speed deadline is a freeing exercise.

Inserting more rhetoric here: "If you don't want to NaNo, don't"

PS - I don't NaNo myself, but fully support the right of my daughters and sisters to feel loved and supported in their NaNo-ing. I don't have any sons or brothers, but I suppose I'd support them as well.

Apparently William Faulkner

Apparently William Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in six weeks without changing a word.

Agreed

I hate NaNoWriMo. I really do. It's not because I consider myself to be an elite or that I don't think that full-time writers should not be supportive of amateurs, but NaNoWriMo completely cheapens the art of crafting a novel. Instead of taking the time to do it right, amateurs are encouraged to simply churn out a steaming pile of crap for the sake of saying that they've written a novel. How many people do you think actually take the time to go back and revise their novel to make it good? They don't really care about writing. They like the idea of writing, but they don't like the time, effort, blood, sweat, and everything else that goes into a true piece of art. To me, the writing process is beautiful and almost sacred. It is not something for people to plow through like clumsy cattle for the sake of getting to the end.
And to those who say that it's an oppurtunity for people to sit down and finish their novel, you can do that any time. If writing is that important to you, you don't need a specially designated month to sit down and finish your novel. Sure, some people work better with a deadline, but you don't need NaNoWriMo for that. I always go out and buy myself a little present, and I only allow myself to open it when I finish whatever I'm working on. Instead of forcing yourself to churn out a rushed, shameful excuse for a novel, why don't you just write a certain number of words or a chapter every day until you're finished? You can't rush creativity, and you shouldn't try.

Who are you to tell me what I need?

Oh, my dear, this is such narrow thinking. I am a published author of non-fiction and fiction. I've been paid fairly significant sums to do so, but I never structured my life tangibly so writing was at its core. Have YOU ever written 1600 words, 30 days straight? I haven't. I want to. Would I do it on my own? Not without a structure to enforce it realistically with my family. I have a life. I have major responsibilities. Contracting for writing time at home has been hard. My guess is you're probably single and young. Real life seems to not have affected you yet.

I negotiated with said family to give me the room to create for thirty days straight, without pressure from them or their intervening with minor requests. Imagine that. A contract with my family to use my time not for their immediate concerns (like laundry or lunch,) but for my long-range goals; for the pure, unadulterated generation of text - all familial blocks removed. Worth nothing eh? Do you think I'll stop there? This will train my family to view writing time as sacrosanct. They'll have 30 days to get the hang of it. This is absolutely vital if I'm going to make it as a serious, published author. Other attempts at structuring my writing time have met with various conflicts and upheavals - mostly from a family feeling neglected and manufacturing excuses to interrupt me. Selfish of them? No, they're just not used to mom having her own life. I have written for years in snips of time and I've been somewhat successful, but it's been a pain in the ass. My family is now psyched - excited by the challenge; and we, together as a team have arranged responsibilities to make real writing possible. I have begun to ease my family into accepting me as a real goddamned writer and giving me the room to do so. Guess what? I'm easing myself into accepting me as a goddamned serious writer as well. That's worth a hell of a lot.

You make some good points...

I totally see what you are saying and I think you make some good points. I think there are a lot of people who use NaNoWriMo who shouldn't consider themselves professional writers. Yes, it's wonderful that they are using creative outlets to express themselves, thoughts and the stories they think up but just because someone does NaNoWriMo and completes it that doesn't mean they have a finished novel that they should start selling.

I think that NaNoWriMo can be very helpful to the right person. I'm someone who values NaNoWriMo because when I have a story that I really want to write it forces me to keep going when I feel like I have writer's block. I put words on the paper even if they are not very good and then if I still enjoy the story at the end of November I edit it very carefully and thoroughly. I'm not going to end NaNoWriMo and then say "Look at my polished, finished piece".

But you make some good points. Thank you.

Create to Create

I can't help but be amazed and saddened by this article and the responses.
Whilst I don't see any issue with questioning the NaNo process, what really upsets me is those who believe that writing 50K in a month is an ultimately fruitless task.
It's a month of "vomit out" style technique, which allows so much chance for discovery in process, in time allocation and so much more. If you are serious about writing you already know that many writers have their own style and process and that this is one of those techniques, sometimes it's just about getting it out, getting the story out and then the editing process, the second draft, the re-writing coming next, which by no means detract or is any less effort than another technique of novel writing.

We should all be supporting each other, not this shaming and looking down, I am embarrassed for any writer, professional or not that would dare tell another person not to bother for any reason, especially if their reasoning is due to the saturation of the literary marketplace. For Shame! A growing number of writers means that the craft is being pushed further, that standards are lifting and it is a challenge for the elevation of our writing skills.

What is so wrong with someone with a hobby interest in writing attempting NaNoWriMo? We should all be encouraging more creativity in our day to day lives, sure a lot of these novels won't see the light of day, but who cares? If the person writing is engaged in an active and creative pursuit instead of watching TV, well then shouldn't we be pleased?

I am serious about my writing, I am already painstakingly writing a novel and more, but I am going to use NaNoWriMo as an opportunity, as an activity, as an experiment, to try something new, to try something different, but still, as always, to try to create.

Haven't read the Right Brain Terrain Manifesto? Maybe you should

"You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself.”
http://www.rightbrainterrain.com

YES!

You got it. This is the point and !Elitism! will always run counter to something the masses can engage in. It has it's place I guess. There's always someone who has to tell you you're fucked up. They tend to be talking about themselves.

Because it's possible to

Because it's possible to encourage other people to write without stanning for Nano?

I'm a writer and I thrive on word-count goals, too, but I dislike Nano for the same reason I love writing. Everyone has their own process and trying to conform to a 50,000 word goal in one month doesn't work for everyone. Some people's novels will be shorter. Some people work a little more slowly to produce great work. And sometimes rather than banging out trash you need time to think peacefully, to reflect, to read others' work and draw inspiration. I don't like Nano because it introduces the idea of creative writing as something that is mechanistic in nature rather than an art. I believe that writers (hobbyists to professionals) should write every day in order to keep their skills sharp, of course, but writing on a particular day could mean one page, could mean a blog post or a journal entry or just one paragraph. Nano requires an average of ~1700 words/6-7 pages a day and even on a good day, 6-7 pages is difficult.

I've seen people write in struggling with the word counts, berating themselves because they were behind by several thousand words...and so preoccupied with the counts that they didn't really seem to be developing the story the way they wanted to.

What's wrong with NaNoWriMo

You know how old, back in the day school teachers used to make kids copy punishment sentences over and over again?
Well, that's what this annual 'write a novel in a month' carnival is. It's more about putting words on paper than sculpting a story.
And who reads them? Out of thousands maybe one or two makes it into mainstream publication. I don't get it. For the most part it's like equating
house painting with being a muralist, or the way toddlers jump up and down and dance at a birthday party with ballet.

What NaNoWriMo Is About

To the person who wrote this article,

You simply have yet to understand what NaNoWriMo is really about. NaNoWriMo isn't about producing a piece that is ready to be published at the end of the month or about churning out one professional author after another.. It's to give you a starting place, a ROUGH DRAFT to start from, so you can eventually become published. It gives people who've, yes, been afraid of writing a novel a chance to actually do it while putting all of those doubts and worries aside so they can actually write. It is an art to be an author of any kind, but it takes practice, time, and commitment, and when there is a way to give that starting point for people to practice, have the time, and commit to writing why shoot it down because your ego is overshadowing the true meaning of what is at the end of your nose. Open your eyes, shut up, listen to what others have to say to you, read things as they are instead of throwing your own sick, warped interpretation in and give it a try instead of saying, "Well this is just making more competition for me so I hate it." Without the competition is it really worth doing?

And about the three- and four-year-olds participating...it shows the younger generations that the art writing needs to be preserved and utilized otherwise we'll lose it.

So, again I say, shut up and give it a try. You might actually like it when you have a group with you to help you complete a goal that most see as impossible or too difficult to undertake.

Best of luck to you.

MSL

I just thought it would be a

I just thought it would be a nice experience, because I always end up quitting before finishing my stories. I'm sorry you don't agree, but as a high school student, I can tell you there is plenty of wanted and unwanted writing I'll be doing in the future. I've never done a nanowrimo challenge before, but I definitely felt that if I pushed myself, I could do it.

NaNoWiMo and why I'm doing it

I can certainly understand the harsh comment about NaNoWiMo, and from the outside it might look dorky. It is for anyone who wants to carve out a novel. Anyone. You are certainly right. Crappy writers abound. So what? Remember. Undoubtedly, you're a crappy writer to someone else, like publishers . . . unless you're rocking on the lists right now. If you are, my apologies.

Read this. 190,195 writers are signed up for Nano at this moment. One hundred and ninety thousand writers. All congregating in one place, world-wide. That's one hell of a collective voice. Think ALL of them are shit? All of them? What NaNo offers the serious writer is a launching pad of ideas, connections, mentors and comrades. I write literary fiction. Several thousand of us will do so. And these are JUST the lit. Fic. writers. (Who mean to write SERIOUS LITERARY FICTION.)

NaNo is not only about writing a novel. It very much is about connecting with like writers. The forums are amazing. Want to know what kind of hair style was worn in the court of Ferdinand the lV? What trees are like in Oregon? Want mentoring on a plot that just won't work? All there. On line. All the time. For free and for thirty days.

I heard of this NaNo thing just a few months ago from a well-published writer of short stories. He's been afraid of writing a novel for various reasons and is using NaNo as a launch pad. He wants to prove he can extend a narrative beyond 4000 words. I am attempting it for a similar reason. I can rock short stories until the cow comes home but I feared I would not have the chops to extend a narrative to novel length. By doing NaNo I am defying the self-limiting prisons of my own making. Here I will confront my ogres of personal failure that assure me, NO, I cannot write every day, 1600 words for thirty days. My goal is to become a solid, innovative, professional writer of literary fiction. I am doing NaNo as a way of psychologically launching my literary career. This will not be announced anywhere, no twitter shit; it's just for me. It is a starting post of my race to come.

I believe writing is a mythic act. It is an act of creation, but it is also an act of projecting one's mind through the agency of 'word,' into the world, then seeing if anyone else is interested. It takes guts. NaNo is a ritualistic opening of the way. It is my chosen rite of passage, my formal entrance into being a creator of worlds. I will have to stave off thoughts of imperfection, fear of failure. I will have to commit to a vision, pursue it, and be absolutely fearless . . . for thirty days. I am a creator of verbal worlds, engaging a personal act of transformation. NaNo as a mythic ordeal. Gods always challenge humans with tasks of limited time. This is mine. Will I write a good novel? Are you kidding? Of course not. I will have produced something much more valuable; I will have honored my word. This is a commitment to act. That's a lot to accomplish in one month.

I stopped reading your post

I stopped reading your post once I saw that you can't use an apostrophe correctly correctly.

What makes a writer?

As someone who faithfully competes in, and wins, NaNoWriMo annually, I find your hatred laughable. I am a writer, and I personally know that anyone can be a writer. It isn't some mystical talent, like being a musical prodigy or being able to walk on water. Much like painting, sketching, singing, playing an instrument, composing a symphony, or giving speeches, all it takes is practice.
What makes someone a writer? Being published? Paying their bills with their writing talent? You define it as someone who loves telling a story, as someone who appreciates the beauty and freedom that comes with putting a pen to a blank page of paper. Have you ever looked at the NaNoWriMo forums? Have you ever spoken to the participants?
There are thousands of young adults, teenagers, and even seniors out there who have dreamed of writing a novel. Yet, fears keep them back. "It'll never get published." "I don't know a single thing about writing." "It will be terrible."
The forums are filled with these people, who have decided to push back their doubts and fears for a month, and just let their fingers fly over the keys. I've seen the amazement and joy these authors get out of writing. If you didn't love writing, why would you take part in this challenge? It doesn't pay anything, your novel will be pretty awful, and your friends will most likely never see it. NaNoWriMo participants sit at their computers or notebooks every day for 30 days, and write 1,667 words a day. For some, this can take an hour. For others, it takes seven hours. Yet, they still do it, day in and day out, until they have completed their novel. Why? Because they love to write.
I'm not sure why you think NaNoWriMo is just for people who want to cross writing a novel off of their bucket list, or for people to be able to brag about writing a novel. The point of NaNoWriMo is to inspire all of the would-be writers who constantly quarrel with their own doubts, who don't know how to keep a story going once they have gotten into it, and for the people who simply want to write a novel. Why would someone want to write a novel unless they had a love for writing?
As for writing as children, I finished my first novel at 60,000 words when I was nine years old. I was in third grade, and it was absolutely terrible. I went on to write four other novels by the age of thirteen, each one better than the last, but still terrible. I didn't care then. I was still a child, and just loved to sit in front of the computer and see the story develop. As I got older, and started getting harsh critiques for my writing, I slowed down, stopped writing so much. I would start a novel a few times a month, decide it was crap, and delete all of it. I have NaNoWriMo to thank for getting me back to the point where I can just sit down and write again, and edit it later. This month isn't about getting a perfect novel on the page. It's about getting your first rough draft, having something to go off of while you are rewriting and editing later. It is an inspirational challenge for authors who never see the end of their novels because of fears or doubts.
"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."
The goal is to have the experience of writing an actual novel. It's a creative exercise that can teach you a lot about writing and the effort it takes. It also teaches you that you can, in fact, write a novel.