Writing 101: NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing

You're going to be seeing a lot of stuff about NaNoWriMo on Twitter, Goodreads and book blogs this month...because NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. And I've always sort of thought it was a really, really horrible idea. 

Rushing Creativity

NaNoWriMo is a national challenge in which authors compete to completely craft a 50,000-word novel (which is technically a novelette in most genres) by midnight on November 30. This means you ought to come up with the concept, the outline, the research and the finished product in 30 days. 

Talk about a challenge. NaNoWriMo is actually a great event that promotes writing and reading all over the world, and as a gimmick it truly works to promote the written word. But as a writing challenge, I'm not sure I can buy into it. You see, I don't believe in rushing creativity. 

Nobody put out a stopwatch while Michelangelo was painting, you know what I mean? I'm not the biggest advocate for setting daily goals or forcing oneself to write, because when it's just not coming then it's not. If you're writing just to write instead of writing because you feel the need to write...well, are you really writing?

Not to wax too philosophical, but if you're rushing creativity in order to win a contest (or even just to take part in one), you're putting yourself in a box. You're telling yourself that you must write within certain confines. I don't think you should fetter your own creativity in any way. The book I loved the most took me two years to write and countless years to get over writing (because I'm not over iy yet). I didn't even get the research for that book done in a month, much less the story itself. Most books deserve to be considered for more than a month in order to be properly written. 

My final thought on NaNoWriMo? Time limits are for races...but not necessarily for writing.

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  1. I find the secret of NaNoWriMo is to pour my creativity into the pre-November elements: plotting, developing the characters, researching, plus more plotting.

    Then come November I write knowing roughly where my characters and I are going. I don't churn out the words without thinking about them, nor do I let my internal editor hold me back. I let the inspiration guide my fingers, but if the words fail to find a crafted form I don't worry. Nor do I mind if the characters take me off the path. And I know that I will be returning to hone the creation.

    And if I get to 50k then good. The words are not wasted, even when they are cut or refined.

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