NaNoWriMo– Count Me Out

Tomorrow starts NaNoWriMo– National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a novel in thirty days. I have never been tempted to join in. One reason is that my birthday is in November and the last thing I want to do on my birthday is to slam for an arbitrary deadline. The second reason is more artistic. I cannot imagine that a novel written in thirty days would be any good to read, nor would it be any fun to write. I know someone will comment with some notable masterpiece written in three weeks. (Just as I am writing this, I think I remember someone saying that Their Eyes Were Watching God, was written in twenty-one days or something.)
I understand that imposition of a deadline as a way to motivate folks to actually sit down and write, but I don’t think that art really works that way. The idea of writing a novel in a month seems to be more motivated by the desire to want to have written a novel, than the urge to really explore an idea and to develop meaningful characters and plots. It seems more like an impulse to become an “Author” than to really be a writer.
I like the idea of the month of November being devoted to novel writing. I love thinking of thousands of people sitting at their computers and notebooks thinking hard. What I don’t like is the idea that a novel should be finished at the end of that month. Let us devote November to novel writing, but let us focus more on trying to structure the month in such a way to be nurturing to our artist-selves. Maybe you will spend the month just daydreaming. Or someone else will get a babysitter on afternoon a week to get some quiet time. Someone else will spend the month reading novels in translation. Yet another person may volunteer her month to reading friends’ drafts. You get the idea. Spend November being a more dedicated writer, whatever that looks like.
NaNoWriMo is almost like going on a crash diet to fit into a special dress. You spend two days eating nothing but cabbage soup and feel proud of yourself for dropping ten pounds in ten days or whatever. But have you been properly nourished? Have you learned any new sustainable habits? Nope.
I could also make the analogy about romance. I won’t go into the details- I think by now you get the idea. Instead, I’ll just quote the SOS Band. “Take your time, do it right.”

About TayariJones

Author of SILVER SPARROW, LEAVING ATLANTA, and THE UNTELLING.
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5 Responses to NaNoWriMo– Count Me Out

  1. Ladylee says:

    LOL@ the analogy about romance. LOL!
    I’m doing NANO. Stop all that cringing, Celie. You keep cringing like that, and your braids will come loose, lol
    I have a gazillion short stories, and a couple of novel length carcasses, uh, I mean, manuscripts laying around the house. I am simply taking the one story on my mind at the moment, a short story in a cycle of stories, and using this month to finish off the rough draft and come up with a good set of journaled notes for editing it. PERIOD. That is all.
    That is all I think Nano is good for. It’s an interesting concept, scratching out a novel in 30 days… But what you have is a mess that needs to be untangled…like matted hair that needs a good brushing and a hot comb, lol. And that can take another year at least!
    I am more interested in creating a set writing habit that I can carry out for the rest of the year… And I think that would be a good thing for me.
    That and a good cup of cabbage soup!
    I’d be interested to know what you think of my Nano “bootlegged-ness”…

  2. Jackie says:

    Great minds think alike, LadyLee. I remember the first time I heard of NaNo I made an attempt that lasted all of one day. Then I met someone who actually made it through the entire month. I don’t think the event is so much for producing a literary masterpiece as it is for trying out the writing habit. One of my favorite writers ( in addition to you TJ) always blogs about her daily writing schedule that she sticks to, even neglecting her blog to get it done. I admire that. What if I did that? What if for one limited period of time, I made the effort, showed up for me, what would it look like on the other side?
    I am brave enough now to do it. So far today, I have 450 words…

  3. Bethany says:

    So WHY do ppl keep asking me why I don’t Nano! Lame. I do not see the benefit or point. If ToMo takes eight years to write one masterpiece, how exactly am I going to do it in 30 days? (Doesn’t everyone think WWTMD?)

  4. Michael Fischer says:

    I agree, Bethany. I’ve never understood the appeal of NaNo either, BUT it sounds like it depends on the writer’s process. Like ToMo, I’m a lover of language and style; for me, plot and character actually emanate from an initial attention to language–how the sentences sound, their rhythms. I can’t imagine NaNo working for my process because there’s no way I could write so quickly without losing sight of the prose style.

  5. Lafreya says:

    I am a slow writer I like to linger on sentences and think about plot and listen to the voices and then push forward.. I have finally realized that is how I work and that even thinking about the NaNo makes me want to block.