Actually, you can do whatever you want. If NaNoWriMo is worth it to you, if that’s what it takes to get you to write, then all the power to you. Welllll….. maybe not.
Let’s face it. Writers write. They wouldn’t really be writers otherwise, right? Writers can’t just write 50,000 words in one month, and then spend the rest of the year farting around. If someone wants to try their hand at a novel, maybe if they never did it before, or are doing it for fun, sure. But if you want to be a writer, if you want to published, then kid, you just have to do it. All year long.
I did NaNo a few times, and won it every time. When I decided, “Hey, this is who I am, I am a writer,” however, I realized that writing 1670 words a day really, in the large scope of things, isn’t that big of a deal. I find that in order to be as productive as I want, as I need to be, I need to write that much almost every day, the whole year round. If I don’t I lose track of the story, I lose my passion for the story, and it would never get done. Most of the struggle to be a writer is, as Jane Yolen puts it, getting out that bum glue and sticking your ass to the chair. Can NaNo hep with that? Sure. In fact, I would say that the BEST usage of NaNo would be for you to get in the habit of writing every single day (well, OK, five days at least per week). Not just for that month, but for the year. It takes 28 days to form a new habit, so this fits the bill.
BUT. What am I hearing right now?
“Oooh it’s almost October. I can’t wait for NaNoWriMo to start, so I can start writing my novel!”
What the WHAT?????
Why the hell would you wait a WHOLE MONTH to write a novel when you are excited about it NOW?? No, no, no, people. Sit your ass in the chair and write that novel NOW. Just do it. If it makes you feel better, just tell people that you are having your own personal NaNo right now. You want that T-shirt? Just buy it anyway, and say that you are ahead of your time… And heck, if it makes you feel better, just write another 50k words NEXT month. And the month after…
NaNoWriMo is an artificial construct that really doesn’t matter. If you have a story in you to be told, please, for all that is holy, write it when it comes to you. Make EVERY month NaNoWriMo. Don’t WAIT to write your story just because it’s what the cool kids are doing. Because, think about it, how many of those cool kids end up actually publishing their books? And NOTHING is cooler than going to a bookstore, pointing at a shiny book, and saying, “I did that.” When that happens, it doesn’t matter in what month you wrote your book.
What matters is, you wrote a book.