PSA: The Only Advice Anyone Ought to Give
A few people mentioned on my Twitter feed today disliking the backlash against NaNoWriMo. The article in question raised some excellent points that I've thought about as well--such as the push towards selling to writers instead of readers, and how we should be celebrating readers since they're the reason we can pay the bills and all--but it was wrapped in something that seemed to irk a lot of people. Apparently my F-list at least didn't appreciate their process being criticized, and their sentiment was "who the hell cares if people enjoy NaNo?"
I've talked about advice before when it comes to writing and how to deal with it when everyone contradicts one another. And I'm going to speak about advice again:
Do whatever the fuck you want.
Seriously. And I'm going to take a page from Michelle on this one (because I've already mentioned the parallels to be drawn between becoming a competent eater and using the same skills as a writer). This is the only advice I, or anyone else, is qualified to give writers with regards to their process.
Write words. Ones you like. As many as you want, whenever you want.
NaNo is a great time for writers to come together and just enjoy writing. It's a great way to get in the habit of writing daily. It's a great way to encourage students to jump into the fray and promote literacy.
Yes, it's stupid to submit a NaNo book that hasn't been edited. But you know, stupid people are going to do stupid things regardless of whether or not there's a month dedicated to novel writing--I know this because I work in slush. Yes, people who aren't writers and are never going to be writers are going to try to write a novel during NaNo and it will probably be an unholy travesty that should never see the light of day else it causes the universe to implode. THAT'S OKAY.
What I like about NaNo is that it, IMO, separates writing from publishing. Because those two things ARE separate. Not every book anyone writes, regardless of the month they write it in, should or will be published, even among professional writers. And you know what? Being a writer doesn't mean you have some universal obligation to ever seek publication for your work. I have a few finished NaNo books that were a total blast to write that likely will never be published, but I don't care because they were fun for me. Sometimes, some people *do* need time to celebrate the act of writing and not think about publishing it, not think about who is going to read it.
And other people don't or else they don't want to in November. And...that's cool too. It's okay if the quick bursts of writing aren't your thing. It's okay if you like to go back and revise as you write instead of spitting out a really rough first draft in two weeks.
When it comes to structure, pacing, characters, plot, dialogue--those are all areas where it's good to listen to people to improve your work. And publishing, well, obviously, "Do whatever the fuck you want" isn't going to yield positive results 99% of the time.
But when it comes to process, no one can tell you what is going to work for you. Find out how other writers do it, try everything on for size if you're just starting out, be prepared for your habits to change over the years, but at the end of the day, your process is YOURS and yours alone. Writers, don't ever let anyone make you feel bad if you find a way of producing work that makes you happy and leads to better writing.
So there you have it, chickadees. NaNo if you like. Don't NaNo if you like. Do the hokey pokey for all I care. Don't feel ashamed if other people are telling you you're doing it wrong--as long as you're writing consistently and enjoying yourself, it's all good. Find what works for you, do it, and tell everyone else to fuck off.