11/01/2010 12:49 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Making of a Novel: I Would Never Do NaNoWriMo, But I'm Still a Huge Fan

Thanks to my time writing on planes this weekend, I hit 50 pages on my novel, or 13,689 words. I've been working on these pages for more than a month, which means that I've written in the neighborhood of 325 words a day, which means that I would be a gross failure if I were participating in National Novel Writing Month (better known as NaNoWriMo, which starts today.)

Fortunately, I am not participating in NaNoWriMo, so I can still feel great about my novel's progress. I am not a NaNoWriMo fan for the following reasons:

  • The odds of writing anything anyone else would want to read when writing at that speed are very low.
  • The amount of effort it would take to edit anything written at that speed would quickly negate the time "saved" by writing it fast.
  • It sounds incredibly stressful -- and does anyone need that kind of "artificial" stress?
  • There's a "follow the crowd" aspect to the whole thing that reminds me of other crowds -- concert crowds, crowds at pro sporting events -- and I'm not a big fan of crowds. Crowds are not smart. Crowds are not creative. Crowds smell bad.

And YET. I think NaNoWriMo is a fantastic and exciting event for the following reasons:

  • They have managed to create an international community around writing that is vibrant, creative, and growing like crazy, and it is making the leap from being a virtual community to being a face-to-face community now that there are local and regional in-person events. .
  • They give people who yearn to write a structure for doing it, and an experience of the discipline it takes. This is an incredibly valuable service to writers everywhere.
  • They have reached out to young writers in a very cool and innovative way with The NanoWriMo Young Writers Program.
  • Their website is fun, upbeat, clear, useful and packed with things to explore and ways to learn more about writing. Even their take on fund raising is cool: they suggest ways to donate even if you're broke. I love that.
  • They sell cool products for writers -- notebooks and bags and badges and stuff -- and they have cool word count widgets to download.
  • They are passionate about what they are doing. Poke around their website to read the story of how they were founded, why they're doing what they do, how they make it work, what their workplace environment is like, what they goals are. It's inspiring.

So, anyone starting NaNoWriMo today? Write on!