Monday, November 29, 2010


I didn't even try to do NaNoWriMo this year. It was a wise decision. I have far too much else happening in my life right now to add that pressure - but there's no doubt in my mind that it can be a worthwhile exercise. There have been some fairly derogatory comments going around this year - people saying that it is a waste of time, that you end up with a pile of unpublishable words, that 'real' writers don't do things like this.

Of course you don't end up with a novel that is complete and ready to send out. No-one thinking about it sensibly would expect that. What you do end up with is a first draft. It will need fixing. No-one will read it and fall at your feet and offer you the treasures of the universe for it in its present state but you will have done the basic starting work and you will have done it in a specified time and to a deadline. I don't know about you but that all sounds a pretty useful way for a writer to spend his or her time.

The claim that 'real' writers don't do this is even more ridiculous. They certainly do - and some of them even become bestsellers once they've worked them over.

Will I do Nanowrimo next year? I can't say yet but I certainly hope so.


Rosanne Dingli said...

It takes a lot of discipline and courage - and it takes a writer of a certain personality. I am useless with first drafts and excellent at re-writing, chopping and changing, and editing. So with a clock treading on my tail to write a skeleton manuscript would feel like torture to me. I'd be setting myself up for failure, which I rarely do. "Know thyself," my father would say. I firmly admire anyone who could even contemplate such a thing.

Laura E. Goodin said...

I'm a fan of NaNo more because of its messages than its outcomes per se: writing is an adventure, go ahead and try it, you can do more than you thought. One friend of mine teaches beginning writers at a university, and laments because he sees his students warping and short-changing their writing just to crank out their 50K. *I* say, that's not NaNo's fault. It's a game, and its job is not to force anyone to sacrifice their skill and get themselves all worked up and upset about making 50K. It's a GAME, and should be approached with light-heartedness and a spirit of adventure.

That having been said, I, too, had to forgo NaNo this year (although I've had a blast the three previous years getting my 50K).

Helen V. said...

Rosanne, I know what you mean but for me getting that complete first draft down is the important bit. I know it will be terrible but it gives me something to work on. Otherwise I tend to dally and procrastinate. Having a deadline and a target word count works well for me as I found out last year when two friends and I did a writing race for a fortnight. We all came out of it with our novels much more advanced than they would otherwise have been.

Laura, i'm with you. It is a game but one that can prove profitable to those prepared to put in the extra work afterwards. When you look at the published Nano list you see some familiar names of genre and other writers.