Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why I do NaNo

It is, I imagine, a popular and important question at around this time of the year. It certainly is here; I've already found myself sleep-typing on two separate occasions already this month, and now I'm compounding the problem by trying to blog at the same time.
(Actually it's just an excuse to point out the shiny new widget that should now be adorning the sidebar.)
Anyway... Yes, it's insane. Yes, 90% of what I've written is rubbish. Yes, I'm sleep deprived, and the house is cleaning deprived. So why do I do it?

  • Well it's fun. The camaraderie. The fact that you can ask 10,000 other NaNites how to spell camaraderie. (I've written 3,007 words today, I've lost the will to spell.) The fact that, somewhere on the NaNoWriMo website, all of human life is represented. The fact that some questions get answered in the forums and then the asker refuses to believe the answer on the basis that it does not tally with their experience. The fact that said question did, ultimately, restore my faith in the moral sensibleness of at least some young people in this country. Hurrah!
  • I'm a deadline junky. The only way I will ever finish a first draft of something approaching novel length is to do it in November.
  • In a very practical, writerly way, I do find that plunging straight into a novel NaNo-style is a quick and easy way to see if the idea has legs. For instance, I tried a novel for Camp NaNoWriMo earlier in the year, quickly found it wasn't going to go anywhere as I had envisaged it, and gave up. November I take more seriously and try not to give up like that; but this month I got to about 8,500 words of crap before working out vaguely where the story should be going, and it seems to be picking up now.
  • Peer pressure. It does seem to work: this evening an hour of word wars boosted my word count by the required 1667 (and then some) and left me with a messy jumble of plot twists and potential new directions to let my characters (most of whom don't have proper names yet) explore in later chapters.

NaNoWriMo is certainly not for everyone, and it is completely insane, but I've found a way to make it work for me. I think it's going to be an annual event for some time yet...

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