Sunday, 2 November 2014

Some thoughts on NaNoWriMo

It's that time of year again. Time for NanoWriMo. For those not in the know, this is a yearly event held every November in which people sign up to a novel-writing event. The idea is you get involved with all the other people who've signed up and write a 50k first draft in thirty days while encouraging others who are doing the same. You tweet and Facebook your progress, and you power through (again with the encouragement and support of other writers) and you get that first draft written in a month.

We all following this so far? Good.

About a week ago, I came across an article online that left a really bad taste in my mouth. Here it is.

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/10/attention-nanowrimo-fans-no-one-cares-how-your-fing-novel-going

I don't pretend I'm not irritated by people who talk about writing and consider themselves a writer without, you know, actually writing. I might as well call myself a footballer because I once looked up at the TV in a pub when a match was on. If you want to be called a writer, then sit down and write. Don't keep talking about it. Writing a book doesn't work like that and just about any writer will want to punch you in the face if all you do is talk. 

At the same time, this ugly article with its sneering bitterness can fuck right off. Absolutely yes, there are plenty of people writing a book at any time of the year let alone November who are so in love with what they're doing that they fail to see that writing a book is pretty dull for those outside the process. Lumbering through the 15k mark, then the 30k and wondering if this bag of crap you're working on will ever be finished is not fun. Same with edits. Same with rewrites. Same with the soul-crushing business that is querying the fucking thing. But that's how it goes and nobody in the publishing world gives a toss until you deliver them something that makes them sit up and take notice. Incidentally, emailing twenty agents on the first of December with your NaNoWriMo piece is not the way to get noticed. Well, it will get you noticed but not as you want to be.

However, the last thing writers need, especially newer writers, is bullying from other writers. If a hundred thousand people sign up to NaNoWriMo and 1% of them produce a book that will eventually be good enough to be published, then the only reaction to this should be encouragement. Given that it feels like fewer people are reading and even fewer give a shit about books in any form, writers should applaud those who might be getting started on a great tale.

There are enough people ready and willing to disparage any kind of creativity as a waste of time, and there are enough people who will listen to that negativity before giving up. Hearing that sort of shit from professional writers is, frankly, a load of disappointing bollocks.

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