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Oct 31, 2012

Why Do NaNoWriMo?

I’ll be doing some posts on NaNoWriMo.

There are a million ways to write a book, a million ways to start, a million ways to slog through, a million ways to finish. These will be my personal tips for NaNoWriMo. They may not work for you. They may not even work for me. It helps me to write them down, and if it helps you too, awesome.

My advice will be a little different than the official NaNo handbook. I'm big on outlining at the moment, so I won't be using a seat-of-the-pants approach. That’s not to say, however, that there is a place for the kind of break-neck, no-inner-critic writing NaNo is famous for. But I think that too works best when you have some idea where you’re going.

This may depend on how experienced you are at writing. NaNo and its methods are strongly geared toward pushing first-timers into the arms of their virgin book. What I have in mind may be of more use for writers who already have a few under the belt.

My friend Michelle Davidson Argyle has questioned whether NaNo is at all useful for seasoned writers
I don't see the attraction for seasoned writers to sit down during a holiday month (at least in the U.S.) to pound out 50,000 words, when during the rest of the year, and many years prior, they've worked at a fine, steady pace for something they consider a career (that's part of what I consider seasoned). 
...So, I wonder how many seasoned writers do NaNo to actually prove to themselves that they can write a specific amount of words in a short amount of time? Do they do it just for fun? Because so many of them ignore family and housecleaning, etc. for the entire month just to complete NaNo. That seems like a huge sacrifice for something that's just for fun. For me, it's not so much fun. I'm a girl who doesn't care much for following crowds, and doing NaNo feels too much like a trend or following a crowd, so I think that's part of why it turns me completely off. I know I can write a book in a certain amount of time, if needed. It's my job now. I don't need NaNo to prove that to myself. I already proved it to myself twice this year. A large portion of my friends (many of them I consider seasoned) are participating in NaNo this year. I'm definitely cheering them on, but I'll be revising this month instead of typing new words on a novel.
I agree with this completely. There's been many a year that NaNo has fallen during a period when I needed to do something else than writing a draft...like revision.

This year, I will do it, but I've set some ground rules for myself. First off, I'm doing it on my own terms.   (And why not? The exercise exists for us not the other way around.) I'll be aiming less at wordcount than at a useable rich outline. I think it’s better to start with an outline than just a word flood. In fact, in my opinion, you’d be better off if you ended NaNo with a 20,000 word tightly plotted rich outline than with 50,000 words of a sloppy draft with huge plot holes. That's my own goal. And I plan ride the wave of NaNo enthusiasm as I do so.



3 comments:

Taryn Tyler said...

That sounds like a decent plan to me. I'm not really a seasoned writer (not in the "I-can-call-it-a-career-now" way at least) but I've yet to participate in NaNoWriMo in the way it is oficially described. One year I signed up for a series of writing prompts to work on throughout the month. Another year I vowed to complete the two-thirds finished novel I was already working on. Another year I worked on editing that same manuscript. Sometimes you know more of what you need to be challenged in than a world-wide exorsize.

Tara Maya said...

Taryn, all of those sound like awesome uses of NaNo. And I agree. We know what we need to do, usually. That's not where we need the push. We need the push just to do it.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I agree about the outlining. When I did NaNo the one time for Monarch, I had no outline. It ended badly. I had to rewrite the entire book, and I think in the long run, I lost time!