NaNoWriMo Time Again

Today, writers across the globe begin the grueling challenge of NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month is a 30-day period set aside for writers (and wannabes) to complete a 50,000-word novel. There’s a LOT of hoopla surrounding it — pep talks, guides to success, tweets, blogs.

Too bad. Once again, I won’t be joining them.

This year, my problem is TIME  (or rather, the lack of it).

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No NaNoWriMo for Me

So who’s planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Begun on the West Coast in 1999 with all of 21 participants, it’s grown exponentially ever since; last year, more than 200,000 people signed up for the challenge.

Basically, participants commit to writing a new 50,000-word novel in the space of 30 days, beginning at midnight on Nov. 1 and ending at 11:59:59 on Nov. 30.

To complete the task on time, they must write 1,667 words each day.

Do NOT expect me to participate in such tomfoolery!

Writing is serious business.

Sure, I’d love to write an entire novel in 30 days. I’d love to be declared a “winner” just by completing the required goal. And I’d love to have the kind of time in which I could do nothing for a full month but write.

But I’m telling ya, it ain’t gonna happen.

NaNoWriMo seems to encourage quantity over quality, a philosophy I can’t buy into. Their slogan is “No Plot? No Problem!”, also the title of the book penned by the instigator of this challenge.

Now I’m one of those painstaking writers. Even when I was working in the daily newspaper biz, I wrote and re-wrote my stories, changing a word here, moving a paragraph there, editing, always editing, right up to deadline. My editors used to love my clean copy (the good sisters who taught me English would’ve been proud!).

No way can I rationalize blabbering just to meet a word goal.

And another thing. Writing is a solitary endeavor. My inner editor is persistent in demanding I keep butt in chair and hands on the keyboard.

I don’t need (or want) weekly pep-talks in my e-mail box, advice forums, and fancy kickoff parties to “help” me write. That kind of procrastination only gets in the way of the task at hand.

Nor do I think it’s a good idea for NaNoWriMo to encourage everybody and his brother to simply string words together and call themselves a winner. There’s enough junk on the market right now; we don’t need more. And agents are probably shuddering over the idea that any of this hastily written drivel will actually be *gasp* submitted.

Finally, I’ve always believed you shouldn’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. That just sets you up for failure, which isn’t good for your self-esteem.

Some days I’m quite productive; other days, not so much. But I’d rather write less that’s right than more that’s filler.

As Gandhi said, “It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.”

Any thoughts you’d like to share?