The Value of NaNoWriMo

Character Artwork: Version Two - for NaNoWriMo 2012, Karen Gadient

I didn’t win the Powerball. Pretty sure you didn’t either. Bummer, right?

However… last night, I “won” NaNoWriMo for the second time. This novel(la) was more of a struggle than the one I did last year—due to less laughs and more doom—but I reached 51,071 words and crafted a decent ending.

My main character (yep, that’s him in this post’s image) went through a lot of changes as he fought his way through the story. He began as a teenager and ended up a grown man, much faster than he’d expected. And, although he may live for another hundred years, he still still has a lot of galaxy to save. I’ll return to him for a rewrite/edit and maybe a sequel.

Still, I’m glad to finally put NaNoWriMo aside and begin editing the novel I finished just before NaNoWriMo began. Those characters never got out of my head throughout all of November, and it was like having two people in the room with you, talking while you were trying to work!

“You really writing that? It’s creepy. Come back to us. We’ve got flying cars!”

NaNoWriMo Banner

This year, I saw a lot more banter online regarding the value of NaNoWriMo. Plenty of hate along with the love. Valid points on both sides.

I agree that not everyone “has a story in them” or is meant to be “a writer”. I agree that too many people submit/self-publish their “masterpiece” without proper revision, editing, and general professionalism.

Doe NaNoWriMo encourage this?

No. There will always be people who are naive, disillusioned, misinformed, or think that rules don’t apply to them.

I’ve been one of those writers. It was only through years of reading and failing and getting smacked on the head by professionals that I realized I wasn’t pouring magic from my fingers. Same goes with my art and design work.

As Alanis Morissette once said: you live, you learn. I’ll never stop learning. Or failing, I’m sure! I’m human. But I’ll keep doing what I do because I love doing it.

Sure, the online bookstores are full of junk. But there are gems too. Some of those gems even began in NaNoWriMo. Only those writers re-wrote, edited, got beta readers, and enlisted the help of professionals for the final product.

My favorite example, of course, is my best friend Natania Barron and her fantastic book Pilgrim of the Sky, which began in NaNoWriMo (although it went through plenty of changes before publication). I’m proud to get the blame for planting a wine-soaked seed for another book in those worlds, featuring one of my favorite characters, Joss Raddick. Mmm-hm.

Natania speaks of writing and NaNoWriMo, and shares some of her story.

Participate in NaNoWriMo. Have crazy fun with it. Get the short draft done. Then prepare to spend a lot of time fixing that draft before forcing it on others, if that’s your plan. Be proud you got the thing out of your head and onto the paper.

As my friend Katie cheered to me all this month: YAY YOU!

NaNoWriMo encourages people to give something a try—and to give themselves a chance to create something awesome. In a frenzy, without censorship. It’s so freeing. It’s a wonderful mess. It’s dreaming awake. For me, it’s embracing my inner child and remembering what it was like to hop in a sack race. It’s pure fun, even if no one ever reads it, and even if you don’t “win”.

That’s why I’ll keep doing it, year after year.

My favorite pep talk from NaNoWriMo this year, by Nick Hornby.

Congrats to all of you who did NaNoWriMo this year. And congrats to all of you who dare to create, no matter what you bring to life or what month it is.

24 Comments

Filed under Creativity, Friendship, Imagination, Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing

24 responses to “The Value of NaNoWriMo

  1. sj

    Yay, congratulations on finishing! I am sad my move interrupted my writing, but I’m still hoping to finish what I started once we’re settled in our new place/state. Hopefully February will be the month I get it done!

    • karengadient

      Thanks! Any month is a good month, I say. Moving is hard enough without trying to write. I know I didn’t get a thing done creatively when we last moved. So stressful!

  2. Congrats on your success for NaNoWriMo! I was interested in trying it out this year, but I think I’ll work on my abilities to be better prepared for next year. Hearing about your experience really makes me want to try it out!

    • karengadient

      Thanks! You seem to be more of a poet. Like your work, by the way! I wonder if anyone has ever done NaNoWriMo as one EPIC poem?

      • I love reading pretty much everything, but I’m much stronger with writing poetry than stories. I’m just able to sort my thoughts better, I suppose. And thank you! I really appreciate that. Also, I think that’s a really good idea. I never thought of NaNoWriMo like that, but I guess the possibilities are endless!

  3. This was my first year in NaNoWriMo! Such a riveting experience! Thank you for posting this!

  4. HIGH-50,000 !!!!!

    *does the happy dance for you* .. and *whispers* …..get the winner’s shirt. Do it. Go buy it! *grins*

    You are soooo awesome …and I am glad I am getting to know you. This month … I am glad we were able to touch bases and encourage one another.

    Now … about that shirt … *grins*

    • karengadient

      Shirts are great, but what I really wanted was the mug they had a few years back. Here’s to hoping they offer more coffee mugs next year (I drink coffee and tea like people breathe air).

      Hope you have a wonderful trip this weekend!

  5. Good summary, Karen. Is it hard to put that novel aside and go back to the previous one?

    • karengadient

      Thanks, Jacqui. Oh, no. I’m looking forward to editing the last novel. NaNoWriMo is fun, but my brain needs to shift gears. :)

  6. Pingback: Technically the last day of NaNo, 2012 « Run4joy59's Blog

  7. Congrats, darling. Proud of you, and I figure I’m allowed to be. ;) Salut!

  8. Pingback: NaNoWriMo – the end « Themself

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  11. Hey you *smiles* … just checking on you. Hopes you are doing well … I’ve been busily trying to get ready for my ‘real’ vacation haha. Hopes your post NaNo has been a little relaxing.

  12. Pingback: I need a little magic… | Zara ~ a writing story

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