Friday, November 5, 2010

Writing "Crap"

I told myself I was going to stay far, far away from the NaNoWriMo forums this year.  I've kept that promise in part, because I haven't been posting.  Just reading.  And it is driving me insane.  That's where I found this nugget.

If you believe the posters in this thread, there are a lot of people participating in NaNoWriMo shitting gold bricks (if you'll pardon my language).  The entire thread is basically a bunch of authors saying, "Oh, I don't write crap.  My stuff is ALWAYS good."

I understand that they're trying to talk about authors writing in silly, random scenes into their novels just to boost their word count.  However, how it really comes across (and especially in the original post), is authors saying that because they edit as they write, the words they're writing are of the highest possible quality.  They likely think that their draft needs a slight grammar/spelling polish, and it's ready to go to press.

This is why publishers hate NaNoWriMo - a bunch of authors think their writing is good enough to submit as soon as they're done writing their book, because they think they're that good at editing on the fly.  I will note that I mentioned I would only be doing a quick edit on my novel, but that will happen AFTER I finish writing it.  And even then, I doubt I'll be sending the manuscript to publishers of any kind (electronic or traditional).

NaNoWriMo is about writing 50,000 words in 30 days - how you choose to do so is your own business.  Editing on the fly will speed up the process after November 30th, but at the same time that you're speed-writing, you're speed-editing.  You're bound to miss something, just as much as someone who is not editing as they write will miss a lot more.

Sure, damn me for writing a detailed account of how my two main characters cleaned up an attic.  But don't tell me that the words you write on paper are any better in your FIRST DRAFT than mine are.  We should consider ourselves on the same page after November 30th; you just have to spend considerably less time in the editing process.

EDIT: Some people have recently responded in that thread with voices of reason.  At least some people in that thread espouse the same view point about NaNoWriMo that I do.  *phew!*


  1. Wow... regular forums on silly things like TV shows drive me crazy, so I can't imagine navigating ones about something that's really important to me like writing.

    Great point: nobody shits gold bricks, as you say (although maybe a lucky few get the breakthrough to do it just once in their writing lives). And even if they did, it's not about "Do I have the best MS?", it's about "Is my work the best that I can make it?" Everyone's process is different; maybe writing that scene of your two characters cleaning an attic is what you as a writer need to do to clarify the structure of the story or the personalities of the characters or... for yourself, for a better end product. Or maybe that's just the story you want to tell, so there, na na na na foo foo to those forum posters :P

    In conclusion: go, Steve!

  2. Nah I was just foolishly trying to increase my word count to catch up. However I really should have just advanced the story. I should note from this point on I am avoiding that kind of stuff and just writing the story. I will embellish where appropriate for word count purposes, but no "cleaning the attic" scenes. I am not allowed to write any scenes that I know will end up being cut just so I can add to my word count.

  3. That's a great plan, Steve. It's one thing to think of something creative to move the story along and another to think of something creative to move the word count along.

    I think, to some extent, that's what a few of the posters in that thread are referring to. Some people really do just write random, nonsensical garbage to pad their wordcount, which, while achieving the goals of NaNo, doesn't do anything for them in terms of actually writing a manuscript.