November. National novel writing month. The challenge: finish a book, or at least 50,000 words in a month. That’s about 1,600 words a day.
Started in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay area by freelance writer Chris Baty (yup, totally Wiki’d that one), the idea behind NaNoWriMo is to get people writing. No matter how bad the end result, at least you’ve got a first draft. You can go back and edit later if you want.
It’s a great idea, I’ll openly admit to that. If you’re scared of starting a novel because you don’t think you’ll be any good, the NaNoWriMo challenge celebrates quantity, not quality. A backwards notion? Not for writers it’s not. Quantity over quality is often the first hurdle we scribblers face.
By the way, if you think NaNoWriMo is for you, check it out here.
Me? I’m not going to do it. As great a challenge as it is, it’s not for everybody. NaNoWriMo doesn’t fit my writing or life style. With the recent release of my latest novel, Legend of the Mist, much of my time has to be dedicated to getting the word out any way that I can. On top of that, I can’t commit to writing every day (though I would absolutely drool at the opportunity to do nothing but) simply because my lifestyle is too hectic. Only a select few, relatively speaking, are able to set aside dedicated writing time each day.
If those were the only reasons, though, I still might considering jumping on the NaNoWriMo band wagon. But there is also the matter of my writing style.
I am very much a revise-and-edit-in-chunks kind of girl. I will spend a day madly hammering away at the keys and producing anywhere from 500 to 3,000 words in one sitting. But I can’t move on to the next chunk without editing first. I need to know that what I’ve hastily spewed onto the page makes sense. I need to make sure that I haven’t introduced any characters that won’t serve the story’s purpose later on, etc. etc.
Also, for me, switching between editing and writing keeps each task fresh. When I’m getting sick of revising, I’ll switch to uninhibited babbling. When that becomes tiresome, I’ll settle into some slower-paced editing.
Writing blog Creative Writing and the Crimson League seems to agree with my position: NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. They’ve written an article called Authors and National Novel Writing Month: 4 Good Reasons NOT To DoNaNoWriMo. Check the full article out for more detail, but below are their four points, and I think they are good ones. They suggest you should rethink NaNoWriMo if:
1. you will judge yourself if your draft is horrible
2. you will judge yourself if you don’t reach 50,000 words in November
3. you feel pressured to join in by everyone else who is doing it
4. you want to compete against other people or feel superior when you win and they don’t.
Okay, for me, number 3 would be the only point I can identify with, but it’s enough of a reason. As I said, NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. I know it’s not for me, and I would be bowing to online peer pressure if I decided to join.
To all of you out there who think NaNoWriMo is for you, I wish you the best of luck. It is a great way to get the writing bug going if you don’t already suffer from it (if you are a writer, then you know what I mean by suffer). But if you don’t think the challenge is quite your cup of tea, I’d say don’t feel bad.
Those are my thoughts, but what are yours? Will you be joining in the NaNoWriMo challenge? Why? How does it fit your writing style or creative ambitions? If not, why not? I’d love to hear your opinions.