NANOWRIMO IS A HEAD FAKE
(Written by Sonia Rao and first posted after NaNoWriMo 2011, but is still very relevant)
Having finally come out of the post-NaNoWriMo stupor I decided that being a three time winner of the NaNoWriMo and an ML during one entitles me to do a post-mortem of the writing event.
And this is what I have discovered: ‘NaNoWriMo is a head fake’.
It is a well-known fact that the ‘funda’ behind NaNoWriMo is to complete writing a novel of at least 50K words in the 30 days of November. Lakhs of people all over the world attempt it and almost tens of thousands of people complete the challenge and are declared winners. Many Nano-novelists are born and many of them are published (one or two of them have even gained prominence in recent times).
NaNoWriMo, while encouraging us to write a novel in 30 days, also teaches us a lot of other things some of which I have enumerated below:
1) A novelist or a writer must maintain a regular schedule of writing everyday (not only in November and not only 1667 words- even though that itself is a good start too). Many of us might attempt it even haphazardly; write a lot on one day and then slack off for a few. While this might work, well-known published writers have had a simple credo: Write everyday; because that is what a writer does!
2) Everyone has a novel within them and the Nano novel is that one. Once that is done, the writer has to start exploring other sources of ideas and genres of fiction to write in.
3) 50K words are sufficient to be declared a Nano winner but in reality a novel could be anything from 60K to even 1,20,000K depending on the genre your novel belongs to. A writer has to write till his story is told and the number of words might not fall in the standard bracket. Word count matters to a newbie author as publishers would not be willing to experiment with new – author novels.
4) Even if you have read truckloads of novels and continue to do so you will still need to learn the craft of novel writing to ensure your final product is of the highest quality. It would thus, not be a very good idea to send your Nano Novel, in its first draft avatar (pantsed or planned but not revised or edited) to the publisher.
5) You might have completed any number of writing courses but unless you have actually attempted writing a novel (and even better, become a Nano winner) you will not really get the feel of what novel writing entails.
6) Many writers of yore wrote by hand and they wrote delightfully too. But the first time I started writing a novel, I actually got bored of writing by hand, the hand moved much slower than the mind. Many months later when I read over the first few pages of the hand-written draft I almost puked at the heaviness and dullness of the prose. Nanowrimo helps us to avoid this lethargy in our script by giving us a deadline which can only be completed if typed on a device though it can be attempted by hand too, but is it fair to put your hand to use for one month only and then leave it to recuperate for the rest of the year?
What new and unexpected things have you learnt while attempting the NaNoWriMo?