NaNoWriMo – It’s All About the Words

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated) has come to an end for another year.

Writers across the globe are returning to their dens, preparing to snuggle down and hibernate for winter, after which they will emerge renewed and ready for the new spring season when they can forage for food and…

Wait, that’s squirrels. I’m thinking of squirrels.

This year, I decided to take part as well. Filled with a naive idea that fifty thousand words wasn’t that many, I set off to a fantastic start, clearing the daily limit and, on one particularly inspired and hand-cramp-inducing day, I even managed to double it.

Pauses for applause.

But it was around the ten thousand mark that I realised how flimsy my novel plan was. Characters were one-dimensional, jokes weren’t funny, and it soon dawned on me that I didn’t actually have a clue where I was going with anything that I was saying. My character stumbled into ridiculous situation after ridiculous situation and I pushed and pushed for more words, the NaNoWriMo website reaffirming its mantra every day: it is only words that count, any words; you can edit them later.








The problem I found was that after a while, the words started to lose all meaning. I knew I would have to go back and edit large swathes of what I had written, probably deleting entire sections and re-writing them all again.

“But that’s OK,” the Nanobot told me. “You’ll have a novel at the end of this. How great is that?”

At day ten, I decided it was not that great. It wasn’t a novel I wanted to see, and it wasn’t worth the effort and hand-cramps it took to force it out of me.

When I write my novel, I want to take a long time over it. I want to scrutinise every word that I write, I want to print out chapters, cover them in red pen and then write them again, before I plod ever onward into the story.

In conclusion, NaNoWriMo didn’t work for me. I liked the sense of community that it was trying to create, I like the idea of getting people to ‘just write’, but for me it takes all the fun out of it. When writing starts to feel like a chore and less of a creative challenge, I tend to stop. So stop I did.

Congratulations to everyone who managed to complete a fifty-thousand word novel.

I look forward to reading your best-sellers in the future!

Meanwhile, I’m going to bury some nuts so I’ll be able to find something to eat when I wake up.

Wait, that’s squirrels again.


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