How’s That Novel Coming Along? Or, Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo

photo credit: HaoJan via photopin cc

photo credit: HaoJan via photopin cc

Participants in NaNoWriMo have my deepest respect. Within the space of 30 short days, they try to produce 50,000 words of coherent writing in the rough shape of a novel. Many NaNoWriMo writers have full-time jobs, children, elderly parents and numerous other demands on their time, yet they heroically sit down day after day, striving to create wonderful works of fiction. And many succeed.

I can write 50,000 words in 30 days, too. In fact, I completed NaNoWriMo last year, and even got the t-shirt. The only problem was that my final result was 50,000 words of drivel. Seriously. I daren’t open the file to read it because I could tell as I was writing how terrible it was, but at the time, hitting that word count target seemed to be the only thing that mattered. Unlike many other writers, I seem incapable of producing anything of quality at speeds faster than a snail sauntering home after a full dinner.

This brings me to another confession. Nearly three months ago I embarked on a second attempt at writing a novel. A thousand words a day, I said. Enough for a novel by November, I said. Not one to learn from earlier mistakes, I found, again, that trying to hit a daily word count is a personal recipe for bleurghhh. As my writing quality descended to wince-inducing levels, I abandoned my efforts at around 10,000 words.

Poor prose wasn’t the only problem. I discovered I’m not one of those writers who can make it up as they go along. I knew what the climactic ending for my novel would be, and who the main characters were. I even had a rough idea of the setting, themes and one or two interesting action scenes. But the in-between parts were hazy, and didn’t become clearer as I wrote. I simply ran out of things to say.

But all is not lost. My ideas didn’t stretch far enough to create a novel, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. It just means that what I’m actually trying to write is a novella. So that’s the new plan. And I’ve learned that I need a strong framework, so that’s happening too. No rash goals this time, just steady regular work.

Good luck to the NaNoWriMo writers. It’s not for me, but I salute you.

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