Monday, October 25, 2010

Why I Do Not Participate in NaNo

I've been having a bad coupla days lately. It's the time of year when crap upon crap just keeps piling up. And it doesn't help that the first snowfall up here puts everybody (but me) in a foul mood.

And I've almost finished plotting for my next book, which will be a prequel for Shell. I'm ready to go for the first of November to start writing.

So naturally, since it's November, I get people asking me: "Oh, so you're going to do NaNo this year?"

Que the facepalm.

For those of you not familiar with the whole process, National Novel Writing Month, o(otherwise known as NaNoWriMo) takes place every November. Writers sign up and pledge to write a 50K novel in 30 days.

Most non-writers think it's an absolutely horrific idea to write an entire novel in a month. That's like, a whole novel! 50 000 words! Omigawd!

I don't share that sentiment. When I start writing, I write fast. My average time is about 2-2.5 months per novel. The shortest time it ever took me to write a novel was three weeks.

Could I pull it off? Yeah. And I have before. But here's the thing: NaNo puts a lot of stress on me, because when I set a deadline for myself, I move Heaven and Earth to meet it. And writing is something that I love to do. I'm very motivated, and 9/10, when I start a novel, I finish it.

But when I do NaNo, something in me cracks. I get really stressed and no longer care about what I'm writing, just that I'm writing. Usually, at the end of the month, I have a finished novel that's a hunk of crap. And instead of using that novel to get half a great novel done, I used it to finished a whole crappy one.

I work well under deadlines, but when I set deadlines for myself, they're realistic. I know how well I work and I strive to do the best that I can. But I cannot write a good novel in a month. I don't think many people can.

That's not to say that NaNo isn't a great experience. You're working side-by-side with professional and amateur writers. I don't think many people use their NaNo novel for something they actually want to sell, and if they do I suspect they need a fair bit of revising. But some people need that motivation to pump out that novel, and I get that. Go motivation! Go bettering yourself! Go you for undertaking that Herculeon challenge! Writers are not people who sit around waiting for inspiration to stike. They're the people that sit in their chairs and write, even if they aren't feeling 100% that day.

It's the BIC rule-- Butt In Chair. Follow it, live it, love it. During NaNo, and the rest of the year, too.

So I'll probably finish my novel somewhere in December while the rest of you guys are polishing your NaNo masterpieces. I'll catch up, I promise.



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