NaNoWriMo 2008: Day 14

Tomorrow sees the start of National Novel Writing Month or Nanowrimo as it’s more widely known. The name is something of a misnomer as it’s actually a global event, but since Glonowrimo isn’t anywhere near as catchy or nice-sounding a name it seems like a sensible choice to stick with Nano.

A couple of years ago when the even came around I didn’t really understand it. After all, if people want to write a novel, why aren’t they just doing it? And, more to the point, how can anyone hope to write a readable novel in just one month?

What Nanowrimo is really about

What I was missing with my misguided thinking about the month was that it’s not actually about writing a novel in a month at all; it’s about getting people sat at their desks, their typewriters, their laptops and actually writing.

Every author there has ever been has known periods of procrastination, “block” and idleness. Even as a blogger I’ve had weeks when I’ve not meant my usual posting schedule or missed crucial updates or simply forgotten what I was supposed to be doing.

The point of Nanowrimo is to get people writing and to pull all of these disperate authors from all over the world into one collective, supportive space. Following the hashtag on Twitter (#nanowrimo) gives you a sense of just how much the scribes out there want to help each other through the process.

Sitting down and getting that book out of your head and on to the page can be a tortuous process, but with others going through the same thing at the same time with the same deadline it enables writers to connect and feel a little less of that sense of isolation.

Is it worth it?

The biggest question from the skeptics is always about what quality can be produced in 30 days of furious writing, but it’s not about the quality. Nor the quantity, frankly. It’s about getting started, putting it down and being on the road to finishing.

I’m not going to be taking part this year (although I’m dying to give it a go) because I’m going to be too busy putting the finishing touches to Smile Through It, but I will be whole-heartedly supporting anyone who does.

The greatest obstacle to any creative endeavour is always getting started, be it the painter priming her canvas, the writing sliding the blank sheet of A4 into his typewriter or the filmmaker rolling the camera for the first time1.

If Nanowrimo gets people started on creating their first work (or their second, fifth or tenth), then I can’t see how it can be a bad thing in anyone’s book.


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Photo: mpclemens on Flickr

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  1. filmmakers, please ignore the gross over-simplification of the creative process of making a film! []