Labelling: A rant

author1-smallLet me just get one thing straight before this post goes any further- the one thing I despise is people labeling other people.

As many of you know, I am currently taking part in NaNoWriMo in an effort of completing a 50,000 word novel by midnight on November 31st. Like I’ve said though, when I say I am writing a novel I’m not expecting to be the next Stephen King by any means, but to write 50,000 words alone would be a massive achievement for me. To be able to look at those words, that story that have written and to be able to realise that actually, I can do it.

It might not be all grammatically correct and no doubt there’ll be spelling errors. There’ll be primary school level description at some points and I have no doubt a more experienced writer could find countless plot holes even in the 15,000 words that I’ve got to far (yes, did I mention I cracked the 15k mark this morning? Woo, go me!).

I’m under no illusion otherwise- and most of the people taking part in this challenge won’t be either.

So why is it that there are blogs popping up everywhere saying “No to NaNoWriMo”? I’ve seen all their justifications: these posts are written by experienced authors who are just looking out for us amateurs. The time is too short, even the word limit is too short to class as a novel (yes, anyone who’s actually read up on the challenge knows that 50,000 words actually classes as a novelette. In fact, in the FAQs they explain that the reason they’ve chosen that amount is because it is difficult but possible for people who can’t dedicate their lives to writing).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I can understand their whole big brother/sister routine. I have my own little sister who I no doubt put down in an attempt to be protective. But if you’re going to argue a point, make sure you know what you’re talking about.

  1. NaNoWriMo is to get people into writing. It makes no claims to get them published, and even the special prize of receiving a printed copy of your novel lasts until mid 2014 giving people time to edit. Many people won’t, some might not want a solid version of their book.
  2. The challenge is just that: a challenge. I’ve seen many posts which argue that using a word count as motivation is belittling the process of being an author- it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. Yes, I know that all too well. But at the end of the day, the point of this whole ‘certain amount of words by the deadline’ is motivate people and at the end of the day, that 50k words might be utter garbage but I am sure that every single person who reaches it, and goes beyond it, will be damned proud of what they’ve achieved.
  3. It’s not enough time and people will burn out. NaNoWriMo is based on managing to write 1,667 words per day. That’s just 1,667 words of pure garbage if it needs to be but it’s certainly a manageable target. I’ve seen comments of people on Twitter and on the forums who feel guilty about missing a couple of days and yet the response is just a huge amount of support from the community. I’ve also seen people, like me, who are stockpiling their word counts for those rainy days when they do miss one or two days. But at the end of the day, even keeping it up for a few days is an achievement for many.

NaNoWriMo for me is about setting a goal and achieving it. It’s about forming a habit and realising that if you set your mind to something, you can actually do it. And yes, some people do need a bandwagon like this to jump on it- I don’t see people raising money for prostate cancer like they do during Movember, nor do I see some people running unless it’s for a charity.

It doesn’t make the achievement any less special than if they’d done it of their own accord.

And I certainly don’t see as many people, if any, posting about how ridiculous these mustaches are that I’m seeing already this month!

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