Nano Cheering!

Anyone out there doing Nanowrimo this year?

If you are, then I’m cheering you all the way to that 50k victory. If you’ve never heard of Nanowrimo, it’s a fun project for writers in the dark days of November. Nanowrimo is short for National Novel Writing Month. You pledge to write, during the 30 days of November, a novel 50,000 words in length. Those of you clever with maths will have worked out that thats just over 1,666 words a day. It’s quite a feat.

Few writers would commit themselves to such a punishing routine (or face the inevitable messy house and endless oven-ready-meals that such a challenge necessitates for 30 days), so why do it?

I did Nano back in 2009. I had several writing problems that I decided I just had to tackle. Most severe was my utter lack of discipline – I just didn’t sit down and write every day. Second to that was my obsession with editing. I was an ‘edit as you go along’ sort of writer, with the result that I never finished things, I just kept tweaking them. Doing Nano was my way of trying to break both these habits.

I picked a project that I hadn’t yet started writing – its advised not to try to finish a project using Nano, because you’ll be too wedded to it to indulge in the ‘what the heck’ free writing that the Nano word count requires. (The year after I ignored this sage advice and gave up after three days.) I did some plot planning, bought myself a cute Nanowrimo kit (not necessary but still brilliant), and waited for November 1st…

Then I had a blast. I enlisted the help of my lovely husband who kept me supplied with tea and encouragement. I traded nights out for evenings on the sofa feverishly writing. I ran out of plot round about November 23rd and had to start winging it, taking my work in directions I never thought it would go. Hitting 50k on the evening of November 30th felt like an amazing achievement.

Nanowrimo isn’t without its critics. I’ve had people question the point, say it’s not really writing, that it just means you end up with 50,000 words of badly written trash, or that it’s not for serious writers.

Personally I got a lot out of Nano and someday I’d like to do it again. Is it ‘really writing’ – of course it is, it’s free writing, writing with the inner critic firmly turned off. Do you end up with a load of nonsense? Well looking back at my draft a lot of it would need heavy editing, but there was some good stuff in there, passages I am still proud of.  Is it not for serious writers? Nonsense – go onto Twitter and you’ll soon find established, well known writers who still do Nano.

So don’t let the critics get you down, and consider me one of your cheerleaders. If you’re doing Nano, you’re embarking on a challenge that will stretch you and could change the way you write. Enjoy it. Make sure you have lots of cups of tea,and look forward to hitting that button on November 30th and knowing that you are a Nano Winner!

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