I read Laura Miller’s article, Better Yet, DON’T Write That Novel, yesterday. I think it is safe to say that I completely and wholeheartedly disagree with her.
Just to get us all on the same page, Miller argues against NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), an annual challenge to complete a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. She argues that it is a waste of time, and she implies that writing should be left to the professionals. (See, she is permitted to be a writer because she is published.)
I think her elitism is cringe-inducing, but the part that really upsets me is that she thinks NaNo is a waste of time. There are lots of things that are wastes of time. Watching reality television is a waste of time. Perusing funny videos of animals on the internet is a waste of time. Dissecting past relationships is a waste of time. Being creative is most certainly not.
NaNo is important because it helps people to get their stories out! Many creative people have stories inside them that need to come out, but real life gets in the way. NaNo encourages these people to carve out some time to write, and it frees them from feeling as though every word must be perfect in order to hit the page. Being granted this “permission” can make all the difference. The hardest part of writing is just getting the words on paper.
Miller argues that more people should spend time reading, and that’s true. People should unequivocally spend more time reading than they do. It’s a more engaging form of entertainment than watching television. However, people should not just consume other’s writing, but they should be encouraged to draw upon their own creativity and create their own. Miller calls reading “selfless” and writing “narcissistic,” but at the end of her piece she provides a link to purchase her own book.
The one point on which she and I share the same view is that writers should not submit unedited NaNo manuscripts to agents and publishers. One should always, always edit. I don’t think that I have to point out that 50,000 words cranked out in a feverish thirty day writing binge might need some editing.
But don’t worry about the editing right now! It’s still the beginning of November! Go forth and write!