I've been writing for years. I've been writing since before I was even really all that capable of putting together a coherent sentence on paper. I've always had a very (over-)active imagination and my life has been filled with stories - not just stories, characters interacting with the world. True yet possibly embarrassing story: I found characters everywhere, even within the very written form of numbers and letters (the characters of characters, haha!) This was very distracting for a kindergartner who was learning to write and do math. Each letter and number had a very distinct personality and reacted very particularly depending on which letter or number went beside them. Try putting words or double-digit numbers together when they start reacting to one another. Weird story? Maybe to you it is. No, I wasn't diagnosed with ADHD or anything. I was a distracted kid, yes, but the only thing that threw me off was coming to understand that no one else saw things this way. I think it's far more crazy for me to see entire stories play out in my head based on nothing that's immediately in front of me - where the hell does that come from?!?!
So I'm crazy. Let's just accept this. Why did I tell you this? Because I need you to understand that I don't just write to hit wordcounts or win annual novel writing competitions. I write because it gets freakin' crowded in my head and the only way to make some room is to give the story a new place to live. I write, not because I want to make stuff up, but because I need to let stuff out.
So why wordcounts? Well, if for some reason you find yourself reading this without knowing anything about NaNoWriMo, firstly, how the hell did you even stumble upon this posting?!?!?! (If it was through Stumble Upon, I accept this as a legit excuse and will feel gleeful that someone submitted it... if Stumble Upon is now so passé and you have no idea what that is either, just pretend that I don't live in a bubble and that this parenthesis section never existed.) Secondly, check it out because, really, they can explain themselves far better than I can www.nanowrimo.org .
I began participating in NaNoWriMo in 2008. I had already written 2 novels, several short stories, and a couple years prior had begun the novel that I "knew" I was meant to publish. NaNoWriMo was brought to my attention by a friend I volunteered with at the University and since she discovered that I was a writer she proposed that I try to challenge myself. I was skeptical. I read up on it, read participants' reactions to the process and frankly it scared me. I too believed that there was something pure about noveling, that it had to fall into place. I had read people's reactions to their NaNo stories going off the deep-end, ideas being completely turned on their head, and all sanity being lost at the attempt to just hit a stupid meaningless wordcount. Nevertheless, I accepted the challenge. I wrote a fanfic to save my own stories from being destroyed, and as much as I was driven crazy, as much as my ideas turned on their head, as much as I plunged off of the deep-end with no idea how to swim, I loved every moment of it. It wasn't a race to get the "right" words, it was a race to actually get the story told. For how many unfinished or discarded stories I already had in my back-pocket, NaNo opened my eyes to what I could do. It showed me that if the story mattered, it deserved to get out there. Now, I think this is where the misconception comes in. At the end of the day I don't have another 2,000 words of forced crap that I will just cut out anyways - it IS pure. When you're writing under this much pressure, that controlling perfectionist voice in your head has no power to keep up, and the story is more real than anything you could have forced out. I write "crap" when I get in the way of myself. I am not the creator of my stories, I am the vessel, the tool, I am the means by which the story tells itself. I write in wordcounts to put the pressure on, to make it a goal to actually give the story the time and dedication that it needs, to actually get the ending on it because another year goes by - or in Galen's case, the novel I began in my first year of university - an entire degree program later - or worse, left unfinished and forgotten about.
Writing under pressure doesn't work for everyone. Some people need to do things in their own time and I totally believe that whatever method works for you is what you should go with. I was won over by the NaNoWriMo philosophy and I actually find myself needing to do less revision when I write in one shot than when years have gone by and I'm not even the same person I was when I started the story.
In short, don't judge a writer by their method. There is no "right" method. If you must judge, judge the end product, but judge it based on what it actually is. Of course the first draft won't be gold, it's like judging how "homey" a house feels based on it's blueprints. The work I've released, that's me saying, "This is it! Judge away!" But again, take it for what it is. Who I was and how I wrote during the release of Galen is not the same as who I am today or how I will write 10 years from now. I release a work not because I think it's perfect, but because I feel that I have given that story what it wanted, presented it how it wanted to present itself to you. It's not just individual letters and numbers that are alive to me, it's the entire collection of them. When they are ready to be shown off, I let them go, and they get to live through your reading of them.
Is my method full of madness? Yeah, but if there weren't people who saw the world a little differently, I think we'd all be a little bored. You don't have to agree with my method, you don't even have to like the work that I produce; all I ask is that you respect what I do is a genuine part of me, it is my creativity and expression, and not words for the sake of writing words. I can't tell you how many people have told me just to copy-paste the same word or sentence over and over again just to meet a word quota. If it was just about making words, trust me, I'd do that. It means more to me, though. Just as I imagine that your writing methods mean the world to you. Whatever honours the story being told, that's the "right" method. The madness, in my opinion, is just a bonus!