If you used to follow my ramblings on DeviantART, you’ll know that last year (2013) I had something of a melt down with regards to NaNo – aka NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I went as far as deleting my NaNo and Camp NaNo accounts.
My beef with NaNo was not what it stands for, or what it encourages people to do; but rather that regular participants can end up stuck in the mind-set that they only need to focus on writing once a year (or however many times a year NaNo is now running), and do it just for NaNo.
Of course that’s missing the point of what the event is actually about. It’s supposed to encourage people to write, not be the be all and end all of formats for doing so. The NaNo format, 50,000 words written in 30 days, is a damn good one. It helps to focus people’s minds on what they are doing. The target of 1,667 words a day isn’t actually that much when you break it down, but it does add up over time.
It should not be the only format that you follow as a budding writer.
If you’ve never written a long piece of prose before, then I encourage you whole heartedly to sign up and take part in NaNo, I encourage you to challenge yourself into writing something new, something longer, than you would normally.
But if your story only ends up being 40,000 words long once complete, you’ve not failed. That 40,000 word complete novella is your masterpiece and something you should be proud of having achieved. And hey, if you do hit, or go beyond the 50,000 word mark; that’s good too.
But if you don’t finish, if you find the format too much, if you find 1,667 words a day – or setting aside only 30 days to write your novel is not enough – or that your story idea didn’t have 50,000 words in it… That’s ok too. Because you’ve learned something from taking part.
And that, I think, is the biggest lesson we as individual writers need to learn very early on; writers are individuals and have individual ways of writing. You need to find a system/format(/whatever you want to call it) that works for you and not be frightened to adapt formats if you need to. We also need to accept that some stories, no matter how we spin them, are not novel length, but work better as novellas or even just as short stories.
So that brings me back to my question: To NaNo, or not to NaNo… I’ve kind of been “encouraged” (ie kicked up the backside by the other-half and told to do it).
I have plenty of ideas that would love the chance of a first draft. I have a few first drafts that could do with a second draft. And I also have plenty of unfinished stories as well…
So… I’m going to (more than likely) abuse the NaNoWriMo format and write a second draft of an existing story of mine. Yeah, I know… I know… You’re supposed to write something new. But I don’t feel like doing that. I feel the need to work on an existing piece and have another go at it. In fact… Ok, no point in beating around the bush, that’s exactly what I’m going to do; work on a second draft of an existing story.
You know what? I don’t actually care if people think what I’m doing is wrong either. If NaNoWriMo is about anything, it’s getting to people to write – and that’s exactly what I will be doing; writing 😉
PS: My (new) participants page on NaNoWriMo -> link if you feel so inclined to have a look.
PPS: I guess my next blog will about my NaNo project. Sunday (as in tomorrow) sound good to you my follows for that one? Cause that’s when it’s likely to be 😉