For the past three years I have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, and this year will be no exception. It’s a great way to try to jumpstart the creative process, and get into good, regular writing habits. But like any good thing, there is another side to it too.
In the past, the pressure to put out words has affected the quality of words I put out. I noticed it my first year doing this, and that helped me try to combat it in my second. And I did with a little success, but only after I eased up on the rules. Instead of working on a single novel I allowed myself to work on a series, because at the time I was working on a collection of novels, which was more or less one big story told over different novels (think Harry Potter, only the content was nothing like Harry Potter).
The third year, I was better still but I had eased up on the rules even further. My new rule was that I could work on any manuscript, as long as it was longform. So it could be a memoir, a novel, basically anything that spoke to me. I know you aren’t supposed to write more than one book at a time, but I am terrible with this – call it commitment issues.
This year, I think I’m going to keep the rules where I set them last year. I am somewhat tempted to count any creative writing that is up for publication because I write personal essays for publication that are usually around 3,000 words each, but I don’t think I’m going to do that because I see November as a time to really try to finish a manuscript – and I’m not putting together a book of essays, so they shouldn’t count.
I have had such a major dry spell this year, I’m excited and really hopeful that this year’s NaNoWriMo will get me going (and that I’ll actually hit the goal this year, without sacrificing quality).
Any writer or person who feels they are not a writer but have a story they want to share, literary dabblers and avid readers – November is the month to try. 50,000 words by the end of the month. You’d be surprised what you come up with when you’re in the habit of writing each and every day. I encourage everyone to give it a shot, but make their own rules. Do what works best for you instead of the traditional idea (unless that is what works for you). Quality over quantity – always. 😉