It's November. Around this time of year, it's important to take stock of our blessings, stuff our faces until we drift off into a coma, and arm our checkbooks for the diabolical Season of Giving that hits before we've even thought about making that first leftover turkey sandwich. This is also the time of year where we must take a good, long look at ourselves and admit the following universal truth:
Real writers don't do NaNoWriMo.
That's not to say I'm a quote/unquote Real Writer. The fact that I'm loathe to participate in such a vainglorious waste of time is only one of the few characteristics me and Real Writers have in common. (That, and the drinking. I'm really starting to catch up with them on that one.) No, I admit that I'm nothing but a Hack and a Literary Whore. I'm very in touch with my realities, so I hate to see so many people lying to themselves. So, maybe in the Spirit of Giving, I've taken it upon myself to shed light on a few of the most damaging NaNoWriMo delusions that have claimed many a hapless, amateur wordsmith.
Lie #1: I can finish my NanNoWriMo novel.
Truth: No, you can't.
If you've been sitting on your ass for the last decade of your adult life wanting to write a novel, with a few ideas for a novel, but you never seem to have enough time to get to it, then you will not finish 50,000 words in 30 days. (Not unless 25,000 of those are the word Fuck.)
The secret—and the only secret—to finishing a novel is to write Every Fucking Day. And, if you haven't been writing Every Fucking Day since Jan 1, you just don't have the dedication to get your word count. Writing Every Fucking Day is a hard habit to develop—you have to be so addicted to words that you're willing to shun social contact, stop feeding your family and your pets, forget how to surf the internet and skip Grey's Anatomy every now and then, even if it is the special episode where Dr. McSexisons humps the leg of the new Nurse McNipplesons or whatever.
Want to sleep in late? You won't finish your novel. Want to go out to that bitchin' keg party? You won't finish your novel. Want to make sweet, sweet love down by the fire? Well, you see where this is going. Anyway.
Lie #2: My NanNoWriMo novel will be good.
Truth: No, it won't.
To be fair, the makers of NaNoWriMo do not protest that anyone will come out of November with a publishable manuscript, but they're speaking in words, and words are so very hard to understand. Too many people just don't get it. If you're balls deep in chapter sixty-four and you've only got two hours left before December 1 hits, and you've skipped lunch every day and gotten up at five am just to plug out another thousand "Fuck's", and you're dripping sweat onto the keyboard and you haven't realized the phone's been ringing off the hook for a week because you're writing so goddamn fast…then you're not writing well.
Writing well takes several months. It takes thirteen drafts and that year you spent arguing with yourself about whether or not you should use "While" or "Whilst" in the second-to-last sentence of chapter ninety-two. Sorry to tell everyone this, but, really—writing a novel is not only difficult, it takes a long-ass time. Which brings me to the final, most destructive fallacy:
Lie #3: NaNoWriMo is good because it encourages writers. (Y R U So Meen 2 Me?!)
Truth: Fuck you.
But, you say, NanNoWriMo is about encouraging people to chase their dreams! It's about collecting a group of like-minded individuals in the guise of a contest to encourage them to attain their literary aspirations! Okay, sure, that's all very good-natured and charitable, but there's only one problem—writers shouldn't be encouraged.
Writers should be spat on, kicked in the shins, dragged through the mud and left naked and soiled in a back-alley corner sprinkled with broken glass. If you lie in bed all day with bon-bons at your fingertips and a throng of NaNoWriMo fucks cheering you on, then you're not going to get any better at writing than, say, Danielle Steele. (The world does not need more Danielle Steeles.) But take a fist to the teeth a couple times after reeling out of an all-night bender covered in your own wretched pain of existence, and all of a sudden its "Holy Shit, the asshole can Write!" Pain is art, people.
In fact, I believe in the benefits of Writer Abuse so much, that I insist that everyone who's ever put a word to page in the attempt at fiction go directly—and I mean now—to this site:
Just make sure it's over 50,000 words. And don't fucking wait 'til November.
The Mad Hack is a published autthor with entirely too much free time. She had the honor of being the Caveman's main squeeze for several years. She's also smarter than most of you and very pretty.