And so it begins… [NaNoWriMo]

Literary snobs look away now.

NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month] kicks off today. Just for one month, this month, we can write with complete abandon.

The first rule of NaNoWriMo is there are no rules [or should that be ‘there is no rules’?].

Here are my November non-rules:

 I will not

  •        Plan
  •        Structure
  •        Re-read each day’s work before beginning
  •        Edit
  •        Spell-check
  •        Re-draft
  •        Fact check
  •        ‘google’ and pretend it’s research
  •        Show it to anyone
  •        Worry that it seems silly

I will

  •        Write and keep on writing until I reach 50,000 words.

Writers can spend weeks, or even months, deliberating over a sentence, a phrase, or whether a semi colon should be a full stop or a comma.

It’s liberating not to worry about anything but the mounting word count.

It’s an added benefit if it makes sense but the point is to write. Write quickly and without thinking too deeply about what you’re writing.

Literary purists will ridicule you out of it. Don’t listen to them. You’re not going to write a complete, publishably perfect novel. What you will get is an idea of the kind of studied concentration, diligence and commitment to completing a task that writers face every waking moment.

You may even find that you like writing.

It was surprising and heartening to wake up to Ian Rankin and Frederick Forsyth discussing the merits of NaNoWriMo [on BBCR4 ‘Today’]. Rankin admitted to writing his first few ‘Rebus’ books in around 30 days, while Forsyth spoke of completing The Day of the Jackal in around 35 days. Although he admitted the research was complete beforehand, Forsyth spoke of being captivated by the writing process, of writing day and night to complete it. Both Rankin and Forsyth agreed that, while it’s unlikely that the process will produce a literary classic in 30 days, it is possible to complete a first draft in the timescale. Forsyth noted, ‘if you write 10 pages a day, 300 pages, you could have a damn good novel’.

So why not?

Use NaNoWriMo as the spur to start you writing. Don’t worry about what you write. Don’t ask for instant feedback from family and friends. Don’t worry. If you get stuck simply write ‘I’M STUCK HERE’ and move on to a completely new scene. Once you’ve completed the 50,000 words take time off and then go back and assess what you’ve written. You might discard half of it. That’s not the point. The point is to write.

Writing is a craft honed over many a deleted paragraph and rejection slip.

And NaNoWriMo isn’t just for beginners. Published novelists take part too. Carol Buchanan [award-winning author of God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana (2008) and its sequel, Gold Under Ice] explained why she is joining in:

For me, the best reason to participate in NaNoWriMo is to move the conscious mind out of the way and let the subconscious flow from brain to fingertips. I’m anticipating some happy surprises along the way.

See the full post on Carol’s Blog: Writing Near the Swan Range

Go on, what have you got to lose?

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9 thoughts on “And so it begins… [NaNoWriMo]

    1. Amro – hope you manage to complete. I’m hoping to finish this year [2nd attempt]. Even if I don’t I found last year that it was a really good way of getting over that nervousness of giving up time to writing.

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    1. The more I talk about it the more I’m surprised by how many people have signed up. It’s great exercise, if nothing else. Come and say hi on nanowrimo – ‘Bookrambler’

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