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NaNo-what? And why?

Sorry, I don't get NaNoWriMo. (That is, National Novel Writing Month, when writers try to knock out 50,000 words in the 30 days of November).

Let me say this much up front: if you like it, then knock yourself out. After all, it doesn't affect me at all. I know there are plenty of serious and professional writers who "Nano," because I've seen the chatter pass by on Facebook and Twitter. Good for you.

But I don't get it at all. I recently had to do an intense revision on deadline which required me to write at a Nano-like pace. It wasn't fun, in fact it was intensely awful. I felt grim, physically and emotionally. I had to let family stuff slack, I was snappish and difficult to live with.

Why would anyone do that to themselves on purpose?

I suppose it jumpstarts productivity, provides motivation, provides a supportive team atmosphere. That's grand, but why do you have to wait until November, and why at such a frantic pace? Why not declare a Personal Novel-Writing Year (PerNoWriYe?) and set goals that are more personal to your own needs, and then reach out on the Internet (so easy to do these days!) on Red Room, for example, and find like-minded souls to support you?

I have already seen this point raised on someone else's Facebook page: It encourages interest in novel-writing.

Really? Is this a problem we need to solve, that there are would-be writers out there just wasting away for lack of a month with a clever nickname? If you are a writer, you will write, whether you have a special month for it or not.

At a glance, the concept of National Novel Writing Month implies that all one needs to write a novel is one month of frantic typing. Of course that's not true. Even if you manage to crank out the 50,000 words, unless you're a prodigy, it will be a mess, and likely not even a completed mess, as 50,000 words don't make up a whole novel in most genres. And if you are such a prodigy, you don't need a special month to write your book.

I also wonder about the focus on speed. I'm a speedy writer myself, but not everyone writes that way, and that's not wrong. There's nothing wrong with slow-and-steady. I hope the aspiring writers out there who can't conceive of that many words in 30 days won't despair, thinking there's no room for them because they're not fast. Also, some people have life demands such that 50,000 words in 30 days is impossible. This is not to imply that those who can manage it have loads of available hours. I just want to recognize that some people couldn't manage this kind of writing marathon even if the speedy writing suited them, even if they wanted to do it.

I actually like what my friend Katie Alender proposes over on her blog, the reverse NaNoWriMo. And I quote: "Every day, try doing, making, eating, or learning something new! Enrich yourself so that when you DO feel motivated to sit down and write your novel, you have lots of interesting new stuff to draw from. (Writing is allowed, too… in moderation.)"

For those who love it...enjoy. Go for it. I hope NaNoWriMo is all that you hope it will be.
I will write at my own pace, though, as suits my temperament, schedule and craft. Until I'm on tight deadline again, that is.

Postscript: As I was working on this yesterday, I saw this pass through my Twitter feed from agent Colleen Lindsay of FinePrint Literary Management: "As writers begin NaNoWriMo, agents look forward w dread to December: NaQuRejMo (National Query Rejection Month)."

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Here! Here!

I agree in spades, Kristina. I absolutely love to devote time to writing, but I want to relish, not dread it. Your analogy about deadline re-writes is apropos. That's grim, difficult work. I don't get it. To me, NaNoWrMo is a NoNo.

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Some people do seem to relish NaNo

But I can't understand that, myself.

I just saw someone on Twitter say they didn't want to look at other people's wordcounts...this person was apparently feeling inadequate. That's too bad! It's not a race.

Thanks for the comment.

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I agree as well Kristina. I

I agree as well Kristina. I have helped a few people begin writing by telling them to spend the day outside doing things that have nothing to do with writing. Then at the end of the day, or when something comes to mind that you need to write down because you liked it, to write it down anywhere. As a prop for their day out I suggest they go buy a nice journal and a gel pen. This reprograms the mind to prepare for writing, and it has been scientifically proven that the mind is neuro-plastic [think that is the phrase] and its as simple as turning on or off a switch in the mind [ see Depak Choprah's new book ]. The point is if you suddenly or have for many years longed to write, then this is how I teach people to get started with remarkable results. Last I heard every person who asked me how to write, when they believed they couldn't, are still writing in their journals.

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Love journals

I have a personal journal, and I also have a writing notebook which helps me work out issues and jot notes. Many times if I'm stuck at the keyboard all I need to do is switch media and having a pen in hand frees me up. Also, if I can't get to my computer, I can also grab a piece of paper and scribble a few things.

I think writing in a journal is beneficial whether or not one wants to be an "author."


Thanks for stopping by.

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Hey Kristina I was very glad

Hey Kristina I was very glad that I stopped by. Journals! you love them too! Check this out: http://www.moleskinerie.com/2008/04/the-notebooks-o.html [moleskinerie: The Notebooks of Michael Pokocky] cheers________michael