As usual in November, the interwebs have been alight with Nanowrimo themed posts – from bitchery, eyerolling and sideswipes to unadulterated glee, professional encouragement and cheersquaddery, plus, you know, a LOT of wordcount widgets.
It does make me sad how many people are willing to criticise Nanowrimo without actually having taken part – when it comes down to it, apart from the poor agents who quite UNDERSTANDABLY get twitchy at the thought of all those half baked 50K mss being emailed to them on December 1st, no one is getting hurt here. It’s a fun group event – some people turn it into professional development, others are in it with a hobbyist mentality, and some are just plain typing with no other purpose in sight.
When I teach creative writing, like the Write Your Fantasy Novel course I taught last Saturday, I always try to emphasise the importance of figuring out what writing advice/work methods work for you. Figuring out how you can most effectively write the best book you can is the most useful thing you can do as a writer – and sometimes the easiest way to do it is just Try Everything and see what sticks to the ceiling. Nanowrimo is a great way to test out all kind of writing advice and techniques – and to figure out if you’re the kind of writer who can work under that kind of frantic deadline, or not.
Believe me, if you want to write professionally, you need to know how well you handle deadlines.
Mary Robinette Kowal has posted a lovely encouraging piece about how well Nano worked for her, and how she used it to write her recent debut novel Shades of Milk and Honey (which is absolutely one of the best novels I read this year – Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer with magic!). She also emphasises the importance of Nano as a learning experience for writers.
That actually makes two published Nano novels that I have read this year, as I also really enjoyed Time Off For Good Behaviour by Lani Diane Rich, which I read because I love the Will Write For Wine podcast so much. Very inspiring!
Like Clarion, Nanowrimo is not for everyone. But it’s a great time, and writers who are able to tap into the collective energy of the project are lucky. It’s like writing under the influence of caffeinated rocket fuel!
I was really sad this year to have to make the grown up decision not to do Nano – that it just didn’t fit into my schedule of contracted novels and other professional obligations. But then I sucked it up because omg, what a good problem to have! I am blitzing my way through my List of Getting Stuff Done, though, and pleased with my progress (currently 14/35) though I can’t help noticing that I’m leaving most of the writing related tasks until last…
Hopefully next year the stars will align and I’ll be able to play the Nano game with a whole new novel. An awesome, exciting novel! In the meantime, I am rather enjoying the freedom of not being part of the word circus. It’s almost like having a holiday…