Saturday, September 1, 2007

To NANO or not to NANO?

On another forum, I reminded some writers about NANOWRIMO in November. A novice writer wrote me, "I don't understand the idea of writing a novel as fast as you can. Why would people take a potential work of art and turn it into a cheap stunt?" The reasons are varied, and I'm sure on the NANOWRIMO Home Page they have many answers to that or similar questions. And I'm sure that many do it as a lark because they don't know how to make a work of art and only 17% of those who sign up complete the 50,000 words required to be considered a winner. But I think, for many writers, it boils down to a precious few reasons.

* Competitive nature. Will I be the first one finished, first one in my state, my town, my group of friends?

* Pressure. Some need it to motive them to the finish line. Some writers need the kick in the pants to meet deadlines set by agents or publishers. Not everyone is self-motivated when the boss isn't watching. And some of us are delusional in the amount of work we think we can accomplish in weeks after avoiding it for months. The added pinch of NANO may be the missing ingredient in the recipe for success.

* Creative blast. Sometimes you want to capture brilliance. And once it is completed, editing is much easier for some than editing while you write.

* Family obligations. What a marvelous way to avoid cooking/cleaning duties on Thanksgiving, shopping at six a.m. on black Friday, watching endless football games with the buzzed boys ("What's the score?" "Don't know."), and dealing with the overstaying relatives. "I've got a novel to write," I shout, grabbing a drumstick as I leave the kitchen. Friends and relatives back away, their bodies bending forward in a short, sloppy bows, and the reverence for this obscure relative about whom they can later crow to increase their swagger in a bar settles in their mind. "Yeah, my sister's uncle's brother-in-law wrote that. I think I inspired it."

And for some, it's just plain fun to see what will happen when you throw off the shackles of knowing what you should do, and just let it rip.

Why do you NANO or not NANO? ("Book 'em, Dano.")

P.S. Two of my three completed novels were NANOWRIMO winners of 78,000 and 53,000 words.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Thanks, Rick - I think it's a great idea. I plan to join in as soon as I start writing again - this moving stuff has gotten in the way.

If you tell others what you're going to do, then hopefully you feel more compelled to actually do it. Accountability? Shared goals? Whatever the reason, I like the concept.