So NaNoWriMo ended recently.
If you don’t know what that is, the name stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a free international event in which authors pledge to write a novel. To “win” the event, you must write a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. Don’t start the novel beforehand, and finish the novel within the month. And at least 50,000 words.
I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo, although if I had, I would have “won” twice over on word count. I wrote more than 100,000 words in November. But I didn’t complete a single work that was 50,000 words or more.
There’s a lot of stuff flying around the interwebs during November, and I think that’s great. People post their word counts. People announce when they’ve “won.” People post in despair because they’re not making their targets. I think it’s a lot of fun.
But there are some people who view NaNoWriMo in a poor light. They think that it makes authors feel ashamed if they lose. Some people think that you can’t write that fast and come up with anything good (even though that’s been disproven).
I want to talk specifically about the “shaming” aspect of it.
First of all, the most important point: the people that run NaNoWriMo never use the word “lose.” To them, there are no losers. There are only winners. If you didn’t write 50,000 words this year, you’re still a winner — next year.
Anyone who uses the word “lose” in connection with NaNoWriMo is not a part of it. They have missed the entire point.
The only purpose for NaNoWriMo is to make people commit. It makes people sit down and say, “LET’S DO THIS!” It’s motivational. It’s encouraging. It’s inspiring.
If you’ve never written a novel before, it’s a fantastic motivation to sit down and do so. And it hooks you up with a community of other people who are all going to do the same thing.
If you wrote 50,000 words in November, you won NaNoWriMo. If you wrote 25,000 words, you still won. If you wrote 10,000 words, you still won. If you wrote 500 words, you still won.
Because you’re WRITING.
Fuck, at 500 words a month, you’ll have a 100,000 word novel in sixteen years. Many great works of literature took longer than that. Some were the work of an entire lifetime.
So I want you to confront anyone who’s making you feel bad about “losing” NaNoWriMo. I want you to look them right in the eye and tell them to eat the biggest bag of dicks they can find.
And if you’re the only one making yourself feel bad about it, then find a fucking mirror.
The people of NaNoWriMo want to help you. They want to encourage you to write. They want to get you to fulfill the dreams that you’ve always had anyways.
There is no way to lose NaNoWriMo. There is only a way to win.
There is, however a way to lose at writing. And that, of course, is not to write at all.
So maybe the next time NaNoWriMo rolls around, plunk yourself down and play. But don’t wait for it. Don’t use it as an excuse. Write now, and then write for NaNoWriMo, too. Because writing = winning. And any time you’re not winning, you’re losing.