N is for Nano

NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Or, as I like to call it, National Get On My Nerves Month (NaGoMyNeMo?). Anyway. I always start off really interested in this, I even signed up for it once. But then, every year, without fail, I mute it on Twitter within the first week.

I have friends who have found this really useful, it has spurred them on to finally write something, or it appeals to their competitive streak, so I’m not saying I hate it, I just hate it for me, it doesn’t work. As soon as I even think about it, all the words run out of my head. I don’t like the whole premise of it, the emphasis on quantity over quality. Why would I do that? Why would I write something that I’m not happy with just to get my word count up? I’d much rather write a few hundred words that give me that buzzy feeling than write 50,000 that are just ok. I can’t force my writing, it just happens when it happens, and never in controlled bursts. I can sit for hours with a blank screen only to have the most amazing idea five minutes before I am due to collect the children from school.

I don’t like the constant updates about word counts, but then I hate those anyway. Sometimes my time line is full of people talking about that day’s word count. ‘2000 words before breakfast today!’ someone will tweet. That means nothing to me. Those words could well include a shopping list for all I know. I can’t help feeling there’s something desperate about it, a kind of ‘look, I am a proper writer with word counts and everything and not only that I have written more than you, so there, loser.’ Same with the #Iamwriting hashtag. No, you’re not writing, you’re tweeting. Also, what do you want? Your name engraved on a silver coated swan? Stop writing about writing and just actually write.

NaNoWriMo also organises meet-ups for writers. This enables participants to meet other NaNo’s in their area. This is madness. Everybody knows that writers are the most anti-social people in the world. They hate other people. Why on earth would they want to go and be in the same room as other people, never mind other writing people?

There have been a few books published on the back of this (about fifteen?) although these would probably have been great books anyway, and there are spin off schemes for schools, which are great. Anything that encourages young people to read and write more is brilliant. It’s probably good for discipline too, after all, part of why I agreed to do this particular challenge, which you could argue is a similar project, is to get into the habit of finding the time to write regularly, fitting it in around children and work and life. But you wont find me tweeting about NaGoMyNeMo this year, or trying to make you feel inadequate with my spectacular word counts. But if anyone wants to give me a silver coated swan for being the best procrastinator, it’s Tracy without an ‘e’.

(No actual swans were harmed in the writing of this blog post).


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7 responses to “N is for Nano

  1. Colin

    I did NaNoWriMo last year, and I benefited from it. I actually wrote the first draft of a story that had been ambling around the beginning chapters and getting nowhere. I needed a kick to just sit down and write. I mostly pantsed the novel, which was a great experience. And I don’t think all of what I wrote was great, but some good ideas and story turns are there that weren’t there prior to NaNo. Yes, some people do NaNo for the word count, or just to say “I wrote a novel.” Well, I’d already written a few novels before NaNo. For me, NaNo was an opportunity to focus my attention on getting this novel drafted, so I could have a complete idea to work with in editing. It was also an opportunity to try something different (i.e., pantsing), which I hadn’t really done before. I thought I’d be staring at a blank screen, and was pleasantly surprised at how the ideas flowed as I wrote.

    I completely understand your perspective. The only thing I would say to you Tracy is that NaNoWriMo is what you make of it. The rules are minimal, and your involvement in the community is optional. If you don’t think it’s for you, that’s okay. Whatever works for you. 🙂

    • That’s interesting and yes, I can see how it can kick start an idea you’ve had rolling around for a while. I think what it shows me is that we all work in differet ways. I thought it would be perfect for me as I need ot have a dealine. If I enter a competition I always end up sending it in at the last minute, every time. I’ve found that with essays too, I work better under pressure. But it didn’t work for me. But maybe I just saw the people boasting about word count etc, the people who were really into ti were far too busy writing to do that 🙂

  2. I’ve done NaNo every year since 2006, and I credit it with jumpstarting my writing career.

    However, I don’t value quantity over quality, or post word counts all the time! (Seriously, who else is interested in your wordcounts?) I’ve found it great simply to motivate me, and to get to know (online, not in person, I’m definitely the antisocial type of writer) other writers, and it’s great to have a huge community to ask for ideas when I get stuck!

    I’ve found, for me, the amount of words you’re supposed to get through daily isn’t so many that I’m writing rubbish, and when I’m writing daily, I’m also thinking constantly about my story and very in the writing zone.

    Doesn’t work for everyone though, I get that. 🙂 I love the fact that we’re all so different.

    Rinelle Grey

    • I think this blog challenge is a huge learning curve and one of the reasons I decided to do it is that I’m hoping it gets me into a routine of writng regularly. I think it’s facsinating how we all work in different ways to rpoduce the same kind of thing and I’m constantly learning.

  3. I’ve never tried NaNo – I always seem to be in the middle of a second draft or something when it comes up. I’m not sure how I’d feel about the pressure of it all to be honest.

  4. Kate Boardman

    Errrrr, I think you’ll find that I am the champion procrastinator here. You’re doing the A to Z Challenge which means you’ve really let the side down. The swan is MINE!!! Mwuhahahaha! 😛

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