Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Five Reasons You Should Finish Your NaNoWriMo Novel Even If It Sucks

A funny thing happened to me on the third day of November: I realized I was writing the wrong book. My heart wasn't in it. So four days late, I began writing something new. I'm still behind on my word count due to this switch, but now I'm writing something I know I can finish. Why does that matter? I'll tell you why.

  1. Finishing is the most important part of writing a novel. Period. Sure, there are many important pieces to a novel. But if you never reach the end, none of those other things will ever matter. I first participated in NaNoWriMo back in 2004. I'd toyed around with writing a mystery novel before, but it was NaNoWriMo that made me type "the end" for the first time.
  2. If you live a normal busy life, there's never a good time to write a novel. In November, you have the collective energy of thousands of other people around the world doing the same thing. If you want to write a novel, now's the time to try it. If you signed up as an official participant, you even receive helpful pep talks.
  3. It's good to learn the lesson "Don't get it right, just get it written." When I first started writing, I waited for the right words to come to me. That's a surefire way to finish one book every twenty years. It's a hell of a lot easier to edit a bad scene into a good one if you've already written down a cringe-worthy rough draft.
  4. It's also good to learn how to write on a deadline. If you want to write professionally, you have to learn to do this. It's hard to give yourself a deadline, so NaNoWriMo gives you one.
  5. You never know what might happen with this novel after November. The first novel I completed for NaNoWriMo back in 2004 was the one that went on to win writing competitions. If I hadn't discovered NaNoWriMo, I don't know that I ever would have finished a novel. Maybe you're the rare person who can motivate yourself, but for the rest of us NaNoWriMo is a great tool.


  1. I am so far behind -- word count 6134 and going to CrimeBake this weekend ... but I will do my best to catch up. I am sick and tired of half finished projects!

  2. I'm on target to finish on Nov 30!! Unfortunately, I've about shot my wad on ideas for scenes. I may have to follow NaNo founder Chris Baty's sage advice and throw in a Ninja to shake things up. Nah, no ninjas in my story but I will write up everything I know about my POV characters to get things moving and keep my word count on track.

  3. Not all completed books are good, but all good books are completed.
    That being said, I am far too terrified to ever try to write a book in 30 days.

    William Doonan

  4. Lynn -- My word count is similar to yours right now, but there's plenty of time to catch up. In the meantime, have fun at CrimeBake!

    Karen -- That's one of the fun things about NaNo, to try out wacky ideas that you never otherwise would. Even though the crazy twist itself probably won't make it into your final book, I find that I still learn a lot about my characters from the situations I throw at them.

    William -- NaNoWriMo isn't for everyone, but if you're curious I hope you'll try it sometime. Remember, it's only a draft.

  5. I tried it last year for the first time and loved the buzz. Life choices mean I've not joined in this year but I made a great pal on-line [buddy] who I'm still in contact with. Good luck to you and let those fingers fly.

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  7. Maddy -- I agree participating has such a buzz, so I hope you find time to try it again in the future! I'm behind on my word count, but having a blast exploring story ideas.


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