This Is NOT a NaNoWriMo Post

Ok, I lied. But did I get your attention?

This is the first year I’ve done NaNoWriMo, so I’m probably as unqualified to talk about this as anyone can be. Just bear with me, then you can throw the rotten tomatoes at the end.

I know for a fact that some lucky people have got book deals out of their NaNo manuscripts. And there is a big part of me that is hoping for that too. Of course I want to have something publishable – that’s why I’m writing. NaNo is good for discipline, silencing the inner editor, yadda, yadda, yadda. I want to have a novel out of the end of it too.

But I’m not entirely dim or deluded. I don’t think that the first 50000 words of any draft are a finished novel, let alone one written in 30 days. Here’s a list of things I will NOT be doing as a result of NaNoWriMo, despite what some detractors (of NaNo, not me. I hope.) may think.

  • Pressing ‘Submit’ on my file on December 1st to as many agents as I can find in Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook
  • Ditto for publishers
  • Sitting back and relaxing on my complete manuscript
  • Thinking that I HAVE a complete manuscript
  • Telling all my friends and acquaintances and total strangers that I am a novelist
  • Assuming that I’ve cracked ‘it’
  • Sitting up until 3am on Nov 29th to finish target word count
  • Practising my Booker acceptance speech

I am fully aware that if I finish 50K by the end of the month, I will still almost certainly need to finish writing the story as it’s highly unlikely that 50000 words will do it. I will then have to step back and reread a million times, decide if it’s worth editing, editing with ruthlessness and a red pen, begging as many people as I can bribe to read it, taking unfavourable opinions with a large glass of wine and somewhere at the end of a very very long road I may think about submitting to somewhere that I’ve researched. I’m sure there are those people who do genuinely believe that the end of November is the end of the process, and I feel as sorry for them as I do for the agents and publishers who are already stocking up on tranquilisers ready for December 1st. But going off my writerly type people on Twitter, the majority of people doing NaNo are doing it in the right spirit, looking to get the right things out of it.

If I ‘win’ I will have a good start on a first draft (and it will almost certainly need masses of revising, what first draft doesn’t?), a good idea of where my plot is going, hopefully a strong idea on which parts really need the most work, the motivation of knowing I can write at a sustained pace, the support of people also taking part and a lot of fun along the way. If I finish, yey me, now get to work. If I don’t, yey me anyway. Because I say so.

And I promise to talk about other things during November than NaNo. Probably.

11 thoughts on “This Is NOT a NaNoWriMo Post”

  1. I nodded in agreement all the way through and couldn’t have put it better myself. I am off to retweet you with abandon. Good luck with NaNo!

  2. Yeah, I know that the work won’t be over come December 1st. I’m also not deluded enough to think that this novel *will* ever be published. Sure, that’s a great ideal, but that’s not my goal. One of my main motivations is to show myself that I *can* write a novel if I work at it.

  3. I think a lot of people’s problems with NaNo is they don’t understand our goals. As long as you know what you want out of it, that’s the main thing. I hope you enjoy it, and good luck!

  4. I think that’s the right attitude, and let the naysayers rot. It’s people’s ebullience who’ve done it that freaks other people out– like the fervor of newly-quit smokers–but as writing is a skill improved in practice, any practice is worthwhile, I think. And with ruthless editing and polishing, who can say how terrific the results might be?

    My only argument: you are a novelist if you write one. Perhaps not a published one or even a good one, but you will join the club of people who’ve finished a manuscript, and it’s much smaller than the group who start them : )

  5. Lol not at all, sorry! It stands for National Novel Writing Month; the idea is that you try to write 50000 words of a first draft in November without worrying about editing or having anything “publishable”. It’s then up to you after November to polish it and finish it and turn it into a manuscript. Lots of writers take part, as I am, for the push that doing NaNoWriMo together gives to each other.

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