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Posts Tagged ‘National Novel Writing Month’

NaNo: A Waste of Time and Energy?

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Every November hundreds of writers pump out 50,000 words in their computer.  They participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNo).  Obviously, participants think this is a great idea.  However, if you examine this more closely, the program is very limiting in its return on investment.

It reminds me of the young student who failed his spelling test.  He was only able to answer one correctly out of ten; yet, his teacher and his parents praise him for the one word he spelled correctly –all in the name of giving the young student self-esteem.

It seems to me that the enabling teacher/parents only prolonged the inevitable.  In fact, they may have robbed him of the very self-esteem they were trying to promote.  Kids are not stupid.  They know that if they missed 9 out of 10 words that that was not good.   They sense that the praise they received from teacher and parents rang hollow.  How does this feeling of false compliments and encouragement bolster self-esteem?

Participation in NaNo is no different.  NaNo applauds the person who generates 50,000 words of mostly ill conceived thoughts and poor use of grammar.  At the end of November the program acknowledges the participating person by sending a certificate of completion.  The participant prints it out and the display is a symbol of his/her achievement.

However, the writer has to know that the novel is most likely not publishable.  Flawed with plot inconsistencies, character development issues, and pacing problems, this rough novel draft is just that…raw notes.  Spending hours cranking out 50,000 words to earn only a self generated certificate of achievement seems pretty meager for the time and energy spent.   What if the writer invested some pre-planning time?  Might that give the writer a greater sense of accomplishment and give a real boost to self-esteem? 

I’m all for freewriting.  It kind of releases the creative juices.  This is only an exercise. Call me crazy, but the end reward as the program is currently set up does not offset the things you had to sacrifice to write 50,000 words in the space of a month.

If you happen to participate in NaNo. good job in executing self-discipline.  Now what are you going to do with your 50,000 words? 

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When Life Gets in the Way

October 29, 2008 Leave a comment

My last post was weeks ago.  I could tell you about abandoning my car on the Pennsylvania turnpike because the head gaskets leaked coolant into the engine.  I could tell you about how the sucky economy has ramped up my workload at my day job (financial planning).  I could tell you that kids and house need attention.  But I have decided to bite the bullet and make no more excuses.  Life is testing me.  How much do I want to write? 

Like a yo-yo dieter, I have tried every time management tool out there.  I have tried MBO (management by objective), reward systems, and numerous strategies used by other writers and writing gurus.  I have been trying for years and something inside me won’t let me quit.  Why can’t I let myself off the hook?  What is the deep dark place that holds me back from living to my potential?

I write.  I write everyday, but it is not fiction.  My husband thinks I should write non-fiction, because I gravitate toward reading non-fiction material.  Maybe he is right.  I often think of going on a writer’s retreat to get that flow started.  I feel like an engine that needs an oil change.  The oil, viscous and dark, is like sludge gumming up the works. 

Here’s a site about writer’s retreats. If you ever thought about going, this is a good place to start.  http://www.writersretreat.com     (This is a hot link, even though it appears like plain text).

Hey, November is National Novel Writing Month and celebrating its tenth year.  Perhaps, you have already heard of it.  This is the opening content on the home page.  http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/whatisnano

Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  “It is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.  Participants begin writing November 1.  The goal is to write a 175 page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.”

Speed writing is one strategy I have not yet tried to crack my writing inertia.