NaNoWriMo is a great idea. It’s obvious to me that the daily discipline of sitting down and writing words with a deadline works: it’s certainly been how my modest past works have been produced. And from the experience of writing those worthless volumes I know I can write 1700 words a day and much more. In fact, I think I write that most days doing the various jobs I do, even when it isn’t NaNoWriMo.
For the first few days of November I was driven and desperate and I rattled out the requisite totals but the experience was unsatisfactory. I found myself padding out ideas and paragraphs to get myself up to the daily 1700 word total. I’d write two sentences when I knew one was more tantalising. Half-good ideas were treated like brilliant ones and nurtured, developed (like weeds) to their unsatisfactory ends for the sake of one hundred extra words.
Enid Blyton reportedly produced about 5000 words a day. Graham Greene was happy with 500. Joseph Heller took eight years to write Catch 22. Jesus was most likely illiterate.
All of this is apropos nothing. Except to say: I will not be a NaNoWriMo success. I won’t succeed and pen 50,000 words of fiction before this month is out. I’ll come close to 20k. I’m writing every day (pretty much) and am enjoying that but the ‘incerdible bulk’ approach isn’t working for me.
I’m grateful to NaNoWriMo for the spur and I’m gonna keep on writing every dayâ€¦ but the project I’ve begun is gonna need Dec, Jan and probably more. Quantity over quality feels wrong. I’d much rather tinker and edit and plod along than write toss that I know is toss when I write it. Everything needs editing but it’s crazy to write a sentence and think ‘I’ll delete that in due course’ as you’re writing it.
So, NaNoWrimo chums: if you think I’m a slouch, that’s fair. But I promise that before NaNoWriMo 2009 begins I’ll be back to tell you I’m finished and best of all I’ll tell you I’m as happy as is possible with my first completed novel and maybe I’ll even submit it to my agent. But it’s gonna take me a bit of time. Sorry. But, on the bright side, if I break my word, hand on heart, the Milky Bars are on me*.
(*Guess what the blond kid with specs got called at school.)