Monday, 10 November 2014
Why I said No No to NanoWriMo
For anyone who stumbles upon my blog and doesn't know what NaNoWriMo is, here is a short description taken from the horse's mouth:
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.
'On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.'
I thought fleetingly about a novel. In fact, I fleetingly think about my novel every day. I started it in the summer... it reached three chapters and then stopped. It stopped because I was too busy wring magazine stories, my serial, a Writing Magazine article and putting together my short story collection, Room in your Heart.
You would think that NaNoWriMo would be perfect for me then - the push I needed to get up earlier and go to bed later in order to write the novel alongside everything else. Why then did I turn away from the yearly event that could have seen its completion? I considered it - I really did, so why eventually say, "NoNo" to NaNo?
It was simple really. When I taught English to my year sixes (could it really be nearly four years ago?) I would often get them to highlight key words in a text or on the questions of test papers. I did the same thing. Let's look again at the definition above. The words that stand out for me are highlighted: Fun and seat-of-your-pants.
I'll look at 'fun' first. I am lucky that I don't have a 'proper job'. I can be flexible when I write and try and balance my writing with other things (dog walking, my choir, Zumba and FitSteps and my dance classes) not forgetting grandma duties! I love my writing time simply because it is not forced on me. I realised that if I gave up some of the things that balance my writing life (even if only for a month) I would be a very sad writer indeed, probably bored out of my mind and with chronic back ache. Not a lot of fun in any of that!
When I looked at my calendar, I also saw that the first weekend of NaNo, I had a theatre trip in London with my mum on the Saturday and a charity tea dance on the Sunday. I could do these things or write an enforced 1,667 words or worse - do these things and have to make up the word count later in the week. I could feel myself getting stressed before I had even begun.
The other key word was 'seat-of-your-pants'. Now, don't get me wrong, I love that word. I plan my articles meticulously, but when it comes to writing fiction, am a pantster. So what's the problem? Well, the 'seat of your pants' element for NaNo is to just write... anything! Although I often start writing with just the seed of an idea, I cannot just write and write. I edit and change as I go and when I have finished, there is very little I change (I am talking short stories here). If I felt I was just writing words for the sake of it, I would lose the will to write.
I have heard of writers who have been jubilant to have completed their 50,000 words only to have their manuscript languish in a drawer because they know it was rushed and needed complete re-working or they were sick of the sight of it. Many people plan their novel meticulously before the beginning of November to give it a better chance (a very good idea) but one which wouldn't work for me being the aforementioned panster!
So now you know why I didn't join the thousands of writers taking part in NaNo this year but of course this is just my own personal opinion and what is not right for me, will be perfect for other writers... and who knows, maybe one year I'll join in.
So, I will finish by wishing everyone taking part good luck... and a comfortable cushion!