Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo Doesn't Pay the Mortgage

Someone once told me that NaNoWriMo isn’t worth doing or finishing since it doesn’t pay the mortgage. At the time I could barely believe it. Had I heard right? Maybe I had, but surely she was joking.

Sadly, this statement came from a person getting ready to give up on her NaNo goal. I think of it like a person breaking up with her boyfriend because she thinks he is getting ready to break up with her. Better to be the dumper than the dumpee. In my NaNo example, she thought it was better to be a quitter than a failure.

Now, I think that if you come out of November with 100 more words than you had written going into it, that’s fantastic! Not everybody has enough time for 50k, and I can respect that. What I have a problem with is someone who gives up on the story she was writing only because she knows she’s not going to get that certificate of completion. It begs the question: Did you sign up for NaNoWriMo for some kind of achievement or did you do it because you love writing, have a story to tell, and want to hone your craft?

What bothered me about her statement was the idea that nothing is worth doing unless you get paid for it. Because isn’t that pretty much what she said? Why are you reading that book? It doesn’t pay for your groceries, after all. And why waste time with yoga class if it doesn’t pay the rent? Kind of ridiculous, right?

I can’t even begin to tell you how worthwhile I think spending my November writing a quick and dirty novel is. I get a story that was in my head out on paper. I look forward to the freedom of writing so fast your fingers can barely keep up with your thoughts sometimes. I believe that practice is the only way to become a better writer. And nothing compares with the sense of accomplishment I get when I write “THE END” on the last page of a manuscript.

My fellow WriMos, why do you spend your November writing like fiends? I’ll bet it’s not because you expect it to pay your mortgage.

I firmly believe that not everything worth doing is something you’ll get paid for. In my experience, the opposite is often true.

Now let me examine the other part of her statement. Does NaNoWriMo pay your mortagage? Probably not, but can it? Well, considering that my debut novel was a NaNo baby, it just might someday.

Whatever your reason for writing, keep doing it! No, it’s not easy, but yes, it is worth the effort. Even if it doesn’t pay your mortgage.


  1. I am doing this to write the novel I have dreamed of writing for 20 years. I hope I can get this book finished and published. Of course, I also hope that I may one day make a lot of money from the sales of the book and maybe a movie deal. But that is the dream. The truth is, I wish to be able to share this story, that I wish to tell the world, with my friends.

  2. Hi Jen!

    I don't know if I'll ever send my NaNo baby out into the big bad real world, but I do know, I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I'm doing it again this year. Authors, even the well established authors, aren't writing to get rich, it ain't usually gonna happen anyway, they write because there's a story waiting to be born, wanting to be told. So, is NaNo going to pay my bills? No way. Am I having fun? Damn straight. I recently saw a post by an "established" author and sometimes editor, griping that after NaNo, she was inundated with NaNo MSs that were garbage, she didn't even read them, assuming all NaNo babies weren't worthy of her time because they were NaNo babies. She said these would be authors were sending out their NaNo entries come Dec. 1st. I responded back saying it wasn't about publishing, it was about accomplishment. And everyone participating should be proud.

    Then, I wondered, how she started? Unfortunately, she didn't tell us that.

    Dottie :)

  3. I get a lot of self-satisfaction from doing NaNo; there's the inner challenge of "can I do it?" Even though I spend most of every month writing, it's no small accomplish to write a book in one little bitty month!

    P.S. Jennifer, nice to meet you! So glad you're joining our Blog Hop this weekend. :-) Look forward to reading your first gift story.

  4. I agree that NaNo is all about self-satisfaction and accomplishment. That's why I was so shocked about this woman's comment!

    But that doesn't mean they're unpublishable either. The story has to be there and tons of editing needs to get done, but the writer/editor who said they're not worth her time is wrong.

    Hi Liz, I'm looking forward to the Blog Hop this weekend too!

  5. Jen,
    It's people who make statements like your friend in the blog that set off my hot buttons! She will not be a successful writer with that attitude, because a lot of what you must be prepared to do does not pay the bills. In the end, you may get paid for your efforts, but only a lot of sweat and sometimes many long years of trial and error. If a person doesn't love writing for the sake of writing, I doubt the book that kind of person wrote would hold my interest. For a book written with passion shows it.

    Great blog!

  6. Bobbye, I agree, this person's comment really ticked me off too! I hadn't yet gotten a writing contract, so I had to assume she thought I was wasting my time. What a terrible attitude, both about herself and about the rest of us writing just for the joy of it!

    To my knowledge, she hasn't written a word since last November.

  7. I want to become a published author and I,m plain stubborn. I want to have the accomplishment of winning Nanowrimo because I felt I haven,t finished anything artistically, ever. It,s all half-finished projects and I want to prove to myself I can finish something.

  8. Rylos, I think you need to be stubborn to get published! It's a long process. Good luck with your NaNo project this month - you can absolutely do it, and finishing a story is so satisfying!