Unrealistic Expectations

Today is the first day of the sixteenth incarnation of National Novel Writing Month.

By now everyone on the internet has chosen sides of either “You should totally write a novel! Anyone can do it!” or “Writing a novel is impossible magic and implying that anyone can do it, especially in the space of 30 days, is tantamount to pissing on the literary greats.”

Fuck that. Fuck everyone on both sides of that. Because the truth is that you won’t end NaNoWriMo with a novel, you’ll end it (if we’re being optimistic) with the first draft of a novel. If you want an entire nooovvelll, well… there’s a lot more work you’re going to have to put into it beyond forcing out that first chaotic attempt.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo because you’ve always wanted to write a novel and/or you have a story you need to tell and/or you’re going through (or have been through) some really awful shit and you can’t afford therapy and/or you just want to see if you can do it and/or you want to be able to tell everyone who keeps asking when you’re going to write that nooovvelll you keep talking about to stfu, those are good reasons (for certain values of “good reasons”) to do this.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo because you want to get rich quick or because you think the steps to writing a novel are something like

  1. Write first draft in 30 days (hopefully less).
  2. ??????
  3. Fame and adoration forever.

then that is, at the least, a prelude to bitter disillusionment.

NaNoWriMo isn’t a seekrit cheat code for writing. It’s not a hack or a glitch or that hidden warp zone that lets you go straight to the final boss without playing through the rest of the game first. It’s not a threat to Literature™ or an insult to Real Writers™ or a misguided attempt at encouraging fake writers to playact The Writing Process.®

It’s just a deadline. It’s a deadline and a goal and the knowledge that a lot of other people are trying to do the exact same thing right now.

That’s all it’s ever been. Let that be enough.

_____________

Disclaimer: This is a (much belated) response to a request on the NaNoWriMo forums for a demotivational pep talk option as a counterpoint to the positive/sanguine tone of the official NaNo pep talks. This is not official in any way as I am neither NaNoWriMo staff nor has this been reviewed or vetted by the Office of Letters and Light, the parent organization of NaNoWriMo (because why would they care what I do?). 

I hope those who need this find it—and if you’re looking real NaNoWriMo bubbly nonsense, visit NaNoWriMo.org.

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