Friday, October 30, 2009

nanowrimo? not for me!

Nanowrimo is upon us again.

For those who have never heard of it, nanowrimo stands for National Novel-Writing Month. It takes place every November, and the objective is to write 50,000 words of a novel (starting from scratch and not one in progress) during the month of November. (If I recall correctly, it calculates to something like 2666 words per day.) All those who make the goal by November 30th "win".

Confession: Ordinary World was a nanowrimo novel. I made my goal of 50,000 words and a few to spare, and the result was the first draft. That was 2006. The year before, I had made a less successful attempt and made it to approximately 35,000 words of a novel that may never be finished, and not because I don't like the idea or the characters -- quite the contrary, actually.

I have my reasons why I'll not be doing nanowrimo again. Or at least not for awhile.

Too busy. With Ordinary World just begging to be released, I've got too much to do with that, and I'm way behind schedule. There's also the matter of being two weeks behind schedule w/ my classes and cramming a lot into the next month to make sure they finish everything in a timely and effective manner.

Commitment issues. It's not that I don't have another novel in me. I'm counting down the days until my co-writer and I meet in NY to work on our manuscript (and probably after that we'll be ready to share the title), and I've already got ideas for two more novels sketched out. But I'd like to finish one before I officially start another. I have a bad habit of leaving too many things unfinished, like reading books, house-decorating projects, etc.

Crappy writing. I fall prey to the same thing I admonish my students for: getting so caught up in the word count that that becomes the priority of writing. I've seen it too many times. Students write a lot of BS (and they know it is, even confess it is) in order to make the page requirement. And no matter how many times I stress that for me, the number of pages is a guideline rather than a requirement, I get a few who keep their focus there rather than on what they have to say, and what their audience needs to know.

Ordinary World turned out to be a pretty good novel, but I can't tell you how much extra time I had to spend getting rid of all the wordiness, the passive voice, the ill-constructed sentences -- right up to the very final edit -- because all I cared about back in November '06 was making the damn word count. Sure, I cared about the story. But the writing came second, and it (and I) paid dearly for it. It's the same reason why the unfinished manuscript remains unfinished (or, at least, one of the reasons). Good story, bad writing.

Nanowrimo can be tons of fun, especially if you're doing it with friends and get involved with the online community at the nanowrimo website (I'm sure there are Twitter and Facebook pages as well, both of which I'm too lazy to look up and link at the moment). And, I'm grateful for the novel I produced. Maybe someday I'll do it again for the hell of it. But for all those who are looking for a challenge, looking for a little excitement and adventure and fun, and who have had that novel in them for ages and never got it on the page, then I say Go for it! Nanowrimo all the way!


Elspeth Antonelli said...

I intend to lurk on the NaNo site to get inspired. I'm cheating though, I just want the push for my WIP (which, I swear, sometimes feels like I will never finish...)


Elizabeth Bradley said...

I'm not participating, I think it's great, but not for me.

Elisa said...

Funny, I almost changed my mind yesterday and considered doing it after all! (Note that I said "almost"...)