Going on the Account: NaNoWriMo? No-No!

There’s an interesting piece that appeared in yesterday’s WALL STREET JOURNAL about the habits of novelists, one of those “Profiles of writers on the nitty-gritty level”-cum-“Possible trade secrets for YOU to emulate” things that pop up every so often.  I tend to question such pieces, especially when they appear in the JOURNAL; let’s face it, that paper’s doesn’t have that strong a reputation as a purveyor of the arts…


All kidding aside, part of me wonders if this isn’t some off-hand way to tie into NaNoWriMo.  I’ve had some folks ask me if I’m going to try this year to join in the fun; one person was kind enough to at least add, “I know you’ve got the other project going, but…”


Frankly, I’m not sure I’ll ever do NaNoWriMo, if for no other reason than just because of the philosophical challenge.  On their about FAQ tab, they state quite plainly:


Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.



For me, that doesn’t sit all that well.  I tend to obsess, pick apart the words, make sure that if some action happens that it could actually happen, much like the 11 writers profiled in the WSJ piece.  If I put something on paper/screen, it’s supposed to stand on its own, meeting all local building codes, without any damn charity from the reader to keep it there.


As for my process, it’s a case of screaming and fighting every damn step of the way.  Much as I’d wish it, I don’t yet have the means to make writing the sole vocation of my life, so it’s pouncing on those few moments here and there, the nights when Susan and James are finally down, the weekend everyone else is busy, to grab what I can from them.  And even in these small patches there are challenges: My biggest enemy at those times is me, too tired and easily distracted to get more than a few hundred words at that instant, though keeping up with the family duties that pop up suddenly despite the best laid plans does play its part.  Yeah, I take fatherhood and marriage seriously…


Could I just go, “F- It! Let me hurl one out!” and end up with some 50,000 word tome that might get more WTFs than anything else?  That could be a challenge to try sometime when I have a lot less to lose or too much time on my hands (or some combo thereof).  Maybe do something Glenn Beck might talk about (hey, who knew?), or something further a field; they still pick up porn on spec, don’t they…?


As for everyone else going through the “50K or Bust!” routine, my best to you.  With any luck, you’ll all have something to talk about without embarrassment come December…

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