Tuesday, 6 November 2012

NaNoWriMo -Is It Worth It?

Participant 180x180 (2)
National novel writing month is here. Day 6. You've guessed it -I'm doing it. And it's sheer madness but there's fun along the way. On average, to reach the end goal of 50000 words in one month, you need to write about 1666 words per day. Am I doing that? No, not every day. Already I find that I'm behind but I have to ask the question, is that such a bad thing?

It seems to me that the way to win NaNo is simply to write. Let sparks fly from the nib of the pen as words are inscribed onto paper (alternatively work through the pain of aching wrists and fingers as you speed type).  Generally the best approach is to have prepared in advance. By which I mean you ought to have your novel planned out so that you can write freely. Planning time reduces writing time.

So, I thought I was on track -my novel was planned out, research done -I write historical fiction, just so you know -and yet here on day 6 I'm floundering. Truth is I was floundering back on day 3. I needed to do some more research so I had to skip that chapter and move on. Do I like working in this way? Truthfully, no! It's not right for me and whilst I hate to adopt a negative attitude so early in the game I really don't feel that I shall win my first NaNo. However, as writers we all work differently and so I'm quite sure that many will excel in this race.

However, on the positive side, it's certainly a motivator and that I do like. Procrastination is no more -I have seen the error of my ways. Endless minutes wasted that turned ruthlessly into hours, wasted days. NaNo rather reminds me of that writing assignment you had to have in by a certain date. And as the day approaches, you begin to launch yourself into a writing frenzy, morning, noon and night, writing, thinking, aching and stressing. It's this business of having a deadline but what is the true cost? For some, there will be a novel at the end and one they can work with to make it publishable no doubt. For many, it's another manuscript to file away in some old chest or box which will be forgotten about all too soon. For some, it will feel like another failure.

So, for me I think I'll plough on and just see where I end up. What if I can't re-write it so well at the end of 50000? I always have this fear of losing the moment- you know, when the words are flowing and you know exactly what you must write whilst you're 'in the zone,' -and every moment is special to a writer. I often find that if I don't make sure a particular scene is right, then I lose the 'moment', I lose the vision. It's never the same when I return to it.

Having first heard about NaNoWriMo about four years ago when I was studying with the Open University, it's taken me until now to jump on board. In answer to my question, yes it it worth it. Even if you give up later it's worth trying. What it does do is it gets you inspired to write. A writer's life is a lonely existence at times and NaNo opens up a new literary world filled with experienced and inexperienced writers. Some are old hands having done this challenge yearly a number of times. It has the power to bring you out of your shell. It's filled with signposts to give you direction. Each region (based on where you live you're assigned a region) has it's own leader and mine is excellent. From arranging forum chats to online write-ins where humour abounds in unison with motivational speeches, she has been very helpful and supportive. We have even had chats on novel planning and preparation for the event.
If any of you out there are struggling, my advice is just to keep going and have some fun. Indulge in the write-ins and the forum chats and don't get hung up on word counts. The most important thing is to write and to write well. Listen to your inner voice and don't feel under pressure just because your buddies are nearing that 50k. Use it as a motivational tool and at the end of November, just in case you don't achieve the 50k word count, don't despair. Look upon it as an achievement. It's still your manuscript so do something with it. Finish it and edit it and then it will become one of your largest achievements yet. Does it really matter if it takes you another six months? You never know, NaNo could even be the catalyst that kick started your writing career. So on that note, get writing folks -whether it be 2000 or 200 words today, just get scribing.