John Green on NaNo

Today, I just wanted to share with you a hilarious video by John Green, one of the vlog brothers / nerd fighters.

The two things he said that I really love are these:

1) NaNoWriMo forces you to be disciplined, and it gives you permission to suck, which are two of the things you most need if you're going to be a novelist.

2) Writing a first draft is like digging the clay out of the ground, and revision is when you actually use the clay to build something that you like.

The reason I love that metaphor so much is because usually those metaphors go more like this: Writing a first draft is like shaping the clay into the rough shape of the sculpture, and revision is putting the detail, etc. in. But in John Green's version, the first draft is just digging the clay out of the ground. It doesn't even have to look like anything yet. It's just raw material. The actual building and shaping comes in revision.

I like that. It helps to give me permission to suck. Which is one of the things I most need this month!

What do you think about the first draft metaphor? Do you agree with the digging-the-clay-out-of-the-ground version? Or do you see the first draft as more of a rough shaping of the sculpture?


  1. Yep, love John. What's not to love? I mean, even the puff is loveable. ;) And yes, it was a great analogy.

  2. I like that about raw materials. Somehow that makes me feel better about my sucktastic writing. ;)

  3. Too many haters of NaNoWriMo don't like that it encourages people to "suck" and produce "crap". The bottom line is, if you get your 50,000+ word manuscript done, no matter how bad it is, you DID it, and no one can take that away. It can lead to the confidence to do it again, and again, getting better and better each time.

  4. ali, I so agree with you! And I'm glad you liked the analogy. I thought it was pretty good, anyway.

    Laura, that's totally how I felt, too!

    Michael, I see what you're saying about why people might not like NaNo. Personally, I don't see it as encouraging people to suck as much as encouraging people despite the fact that they suck. Maybe suckage shouldn't be encouraged per se, but writers should be encouraged, and if knowing they're not the only one who suck does it, then hallelujah for that! :o)


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