Sunday, 1 November 2009


I feel the world all a clatter to madly tapping keyboards. It's NaNoWriMo, and for those of you for whom that means nothing, November is now traditionally National Novel Writing Month—Na-no-wri-mo.

All around the globe, writers and would-be writers are foregoing all other bodily functions and doing nothing but tapping out their novels on their keyboards. Children are going unfed, laundry unwashed, husbands and wives neglected, and all in the name of literary outpouring. It's 50,000 words by month's end, or abject failure and having to stand at the back when the NaNoWriMo certificates are given out. Size matters—there are no hurrahs for 25,000 word dinky ones. Well, no official ones anyway.

While I have respect for the commitment of those taking part, it all feels rather manufactured to me. It feels like such regimented scheduling could easily descend to drudgery where surely any form of creativity should be fun and, dare I say it, spontaneous. It seems the emphasis is on quantity rather than quality. 'Get it written and fix it later' seems to be the mantra.

That's why it's not for me. Don't get me wrong, anything that encourages a writer to actually write (because believe me there are times when doing anything is better than writing) should be applauded. But I wonder whether the right way is to promote a better overall writing habit than to all line up on November the first and leg it as one into the distance. Could it be that some people are actually put off writing because they try this blunt approach and fall along the way?

I suppose there'll be lots of blog entries proclaiming word counts. "I'm at 10k, and I only started three minutes ago." :-) I wonder how many Bloggers will go further and let us know what their state of mind is during this marathon (and will they even have time to do so)? I'd be interested to know whether they can bring themselves to write even a shopping list come December first.

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