As a writer and a reader, I think it's wonderful to encourage people to write, to push them beyond their limits. But there's something about National Novel Writing Month that bothers me.
(The challenge, which drew to a close on Nov. 30, is to write 50,000 words in a month. Divided by 30, that equals more than 1,600 words a day -- considering you don't get writer's block).
So what's the problem? I'll illustrate with a story starring one of my very favorite people: My grandma.
Grandma was an excellent seamstress, making lovely clothing for me when I was a child. "Wouldn't it be cool if I could design and make my own outfits?" my 10-year-old self said one day. So Grandma sat down and started teaching me the basics. The VERY basics. And what would be my first creation after many lessons? An apron. A plain unglamorous apron. Hmm… I didn't have the patience for that.
And, now, I regret that I didn't work harder on the apron that would have been the training ground for the sparkly dress of my dreams.
The lesson learned: Anything creative takes time and patience. It's not about skipping steps and rushing to the finish line.
As for National Novel Writing Month, even if a word-count goal is only meant to push budding writers forward, I see it differently. I think that in some cases it may hold them back. Some might be discouraged. They may think they aren't cut out for the writing life if they end up with only a couple hundred words and writers block by the end of the month.
Granted, a tight deadline can be the key to motivating some new writers. And I do think other aspects of National Novel Writing Month, such as the support and encouragement efforts, are great.
So to those who want to try it next year, but find the word-count goal daunting, I say: Don't even think of the finish line. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get there. The pleasure in writing is the journey (even if it's sometimes bumpy!).