Monday, November 29, 2004

Nano a No-No? Or a Yes-Yes?

Hope asked:
What do you think of NANO? At first I thought it was a fun idea. Now I'm wondering if it isn't a lot of undue strain and pressure on writers. I know of the success stories that come from NANO, but I'm sure there are a lot more "war stories" than there are successful ones.

Well, I bet you wanted my honest opinion :-) I think NaNo (National Novel Writing Month, for those uninitiated, when several thousand gluttons for punishment sign on and pledge to write 50,000 words in one month, i.e., a whole novel in one month, or at least the bare bones of one) is a great idea. I think ANYTHING that inspires you to write more and write regularly is a good idea.

I also think learning to write without the internal editor screaming at you in the background is a good idea. Too often, writers get caught up in "is this good enough?" and stop writing. They compose ten words, fret over them for a month, and never move forward.

That's the beauty of NaNo--it forces you to write without taking time to edit. Sure, you write some junk but you also write a lot of great stuff that I bet wouldn't have come out of you otherwise.

As for strain and pressure, well, welcome to the world of publishing :-) I write six books a year and edit a monthly magazine, plus freelance for publications and have a couple of kids and a husband (not to mention those dogs and cats...more work than the kids some days!). There's always strain and pressure. It comes with the package, just like any job.

What I say is try NaNo. If you make 50,000 words, AWESOME! If you don't, don't beat yourself up. The point is to WRITE. More than you did yesterday, more than you did last year. To increase your skill, to find your voice, to be a better, stronger storyteller. That's what you should be aiming for this November, IMHO.

Shirley, who wrote 1000 words this morning in her new book--so far

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