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01 November 2003 @ 11:17 pm
National Novel Writing Month

Okay, disregarding the incredibly short-sighted name (they claim that InNoWriMo doesn't sound as cool), this seems to be a fairly worthwhile movement. Encourage the masses to get cracking and write "that novel", but more than that, to write it in a month.

I'd say that anyone who thinks they can write a decent novel in such a short time deserves the drivel that they get, but I'm sure that a work of genius could be cracked out in that time.

But my biggest problem here is from the website:

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30."

If you can complete a novel in that space of time, good luck to you! No problem so far.

"Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over talent and craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved."

Well, it's starting to get a bit scary here, but so far it's just being inclusive. Anyone can participate is what they are saying here. Again, good luck to you. I wouldn't want to try and keep the art of writing solely in the hands of people who are actually good at it.

"Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly."

Quantity not quality? This is where they start to lose me. I truly believe that in the process of writing it is better to write crap than nothing at all, but you shouldn't be aiming to do so. For the love of all that is good and holy, take your time with your writing. If you write 50,000 words without a second thought as to what you are actually writing, you will end up with the most amazing pile of shit on the planet. Why would anyone want to spend a month making a manuscript that is completely unsalvageable.

"Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

Oh, dear. Time for a BIG reality check boys and girls. Writing a novel is probably just as much about the "endless tweaking and editing" than it is about the initial writing. And as I say, if you zoom through 50,000 words with the attitude that you'll "fix it later", you just won't have anything worth fixing.

My advice to anyone who wants to write a novel (not that I've finished my novel yet, so please, grain of salt...): Make every month NaNoWriMo. Spend a couple of hours a day, whatever you can spare on writing. I use the term "writing" loosely, as I refer to writing, re-reading and editing. Don't be afraid to tweak, don't be afraid to move on. Take it slowly, but don't procrastinate. Don't wait for "inspiration", write whatever comes to you, but don't be afraid to chuck out the crap. Writing a good novel is as much about what you leave out as what you put in.

But, don't listen to me. Churn out 50,000 words and be proud. I'm going back to pottering away on my novel.
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Frostmaiden: Toughfrzn_mmnt on November 2nd, 2003 03:29 pm (UTC)
If you write 50,000 words without a second thought as to what you are actually writing, you will end up with the most amazing pile of shit on the planet. Why would anyone want to spend a month making a manuscript that is completely unsalvageable.

And it is here that I disagree. I wrote my novel last year for NaNoWriMo 2002 and ended up with a complete first draft manuscript at 51,084 words. I left it alone, didn't read it, until a few months later. And you know what? When I finally did read it, it wasn't crap at all. It was actually the most brilliant piece of work I've ever written. It was by no means perfect. Far from it. There were definately huge sections that needed heavy work, and I had a lot of repetition which probably didn't need to be there to make word count. I created a plot outline and stuck to it, mostly, it strayed a little bit, but I ended up where I wanted to.

So just because it's a short time limit and just because it's seat of your pants writing, doesn't mean it's going to automatically be crap.

Jacobyak_boy on November 2nd, 2003 04:24 pm (UTC)
So, you think your NaNoWriMo novel was brilliant. I retract everything I have said about the project, you are obviously a shining example of what everyone participating is achieving.

I'm sure you can understand my error of judgement since I only had to go by what the guys over at the NaNoWriMo website were telling me: "Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing." That it's a good thing to spend a month churning out 50,000 words of crap.

Obviously I misunderstood. There are thousands of little Stephen King's right now churning out thousands of words of brilliant, inspired work.

Thank you for showing me the error of my ways. Perhaps you should do the same for the writers of the website, that they should change their FAQ to say: "Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of amazingly brilliant work of literary genius. And that's a good thing."

I'd sarcastically ask when your novel was being published, but of course your retort is to sarcastically ask me when mine is being published, and neither of us can gain any ground there until we are actually published. If your novel has or is being published congratulations, sincerely. If you feel that NaNoWriMo was a great writing experience for you, then good for you, no sarcasm.

I just think that, on the whole, they are breeding contempt for the entire process of writing a novel. It's hard slog. I am just waiting for the moment when I'm asked what I do, and on saying that I am a writer I have to endure this accountant telling me that they have written a "novel", and they did it in only a month. This is one of many humiliations that the professional writer has to endure, everyone thinks they are a "writer", even though few actually have what it takes.

If you have what it takes to be a professional writer, good luck to you. If you did this as a hobby, great, but don't compare yourself to those that work long, hard days as a full-time professional writer. At least, not until that hobby bears fruit.
Frostmaiden: Wonderfrzn_mmnt on November 2nd, 2003 06:49 pm (UTC)
All sarcasm aside here.

I honestly don't believe it'll ever be published. It was a project I did to prove something to myself. And I'm not trying to compare myself to the great writers out there. I'm not Stephen King or Marion Zimmer Bradley or Anne Rice or J.K. Rowling.

But I like to write. I have written 30 odd pieces of fanfiction of varying lengths. Some of them I thought were really good. Some of them were not. But then came this novel. And compared to my other work, this one was brilliant. It showed that when I'm not being overly critical of what I'm writing, and take the time to really flesh out a good plot, I can write a decent story. It's also a lot more difficult to write an original story than it is fanfiction.

Its my opinion of my own work. Other people who read it can compare it to other work they've read, but I can't.

But I was honestly only comparing it to my own work. And referring to what I experienced. Others may have different opinions and experiences. You'd have to ask them.

I do have one question though, again, no sarcasm. If I (or anybody) wanted to be a professional writer, and went into it with the personal view of "everything I write sucks, I'm never going to get published" how far do you think I'd get as a professional writer?
Jacobyak_boy on November 4th, 2003 12:23 am (UTC)
I'm not saying you should have that view.
What I'm saying is that if you write non-stop without thinking it is likely that what you write will suck. If you take your time, research, think, plan, write, re-read, edit, think, plan, write, research, write, re-read, edit... then what you write is much more likely to be good.

I don't really have a problem with NaNoWriMo. What I have a problem with is the website that says it is "a good thing" to write a whole lot of crap. It may be a good thing for some people (ie, it beats writing NOTHING), but for a serious writer wasting a whole month writing crap is a bad thing. That's my reason for not wanting to participate, because I am serious about my writing and don't want to waste time with a project that doesn't suit my needs.

But, again, good luck to you.