Today I’m going to talk about the two things my Patreon is about – the creation of fiction and the creation of game material. Specifically, I’m going to talk about the twin events of November – National Novel Writing Month and National Game Design Month. This comes up now, rather than in November, because October is usually the ‘prep month’ for these events.
National Novel Writing Month is a helpful thing for people who aspire to be professional writers; it sets a deadline for writing something with a minimum length. With thirty days to write a minimum of 50000 words, it generally has one of three outcomes. The first – and preferrable – option is that a person comes out of it with the roughest of rough drafts for a novel that they can revise, edit, and get published. The second and equally acceptable option is that the would-be writer realizes how hard it can be to wring words out every day and they conclude that the writing life is not for them. It’s how it is – some things seem like fun until you try them, and then you realize you can’t stand it.
And that brings us to the third result: the people who will take part, fail to stick to any of their goals and plans, and come out the other side insisting that they’re still writers. Some of them are correct; they may be a slow writer who can’t keep to the NaNoWriMo deadline or they may have had a bad month. Many more, though, are writers only in the sense that they like to talk about writing something eventually and how great it’ll be to get published. They write far more about how they’re going to write than they ever do about actually writing.
National Game Design Month has its own and more minimal set of rules; during the month of November, you need to put together a game, complete it to a playable state, and play it at least once. It’s preferable if you also talk about it during the event – both to help get NaGaDeMon some publicity and because it can help other game devs work out their own problems as you crystallize your thoughts on your design process. Like NaNoWriMo, there’s no formal reward or ‘true’ verification process.
Also like NaNoWriMo, there are the same three results – people who produce a functional game that they can polish up to try to sell, people who realize that they absolutely cannot stand game design despite how much fun they have with games, and people who fail but include themselves as game designers. Again, this can be perfectly valid – a bad month, the game design turns out to need more care to complex bits than anticipated, or the design effort gets tangled up and goes slower than expected.
But then there’s the people who will talk, forever, about making a game and how great their creation will be and how much better it will be than anything anyone else has made without ever doing any of the work, or while vaguely noodling about with the work and not accomplishing anything. Unlike some, I’m not going to revile any of these people; I get the desire to create something cool, and I definitely get how hard it can be. Just writing these blog posts is like wringing blood from a stone, some days, and they rarely go past 1000 words for a given day.
Still, these events are specifically for people who have problems sticking to deadlines and putting in the work, applying an artificial and arbitrary deadline and building a community of support to help push, pull, and cajole one another into crossing that line. It literally exists to help those who get easily distracted from the task at hand and provides encouragement for the easily discouraged. As such, if you have aspirations to be either a writer or a game designer, I encourage you to look up the relevant. We’re only a few days away from the prep month, after all.
I, for my part, intend to take part in NaNoWriMo, and I intend to blog about it here; this includes the lead-up period in October, as well as commentary and reports during November on my process and progress. NaGaDeMon, we’ll see how enthusiastic I’m feeling. I definitely don’t want to overload my plate with this blog and two month-long projects, after all; burnout is no joke.
If you decide to take part in either event, drop me a line!