I keep getting asked if I’m doing NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, this is an ‘event’ that has been running for quite a few years where the object is to write 50,000 words in one month. Essentially, a short book. It is an event that grows in popularity every year, and can only be a good thing to encourage new writers.
I’m not doing it though. Before I start sounding like a sourpuss, the simple reason is that that is not how I write books. For me writing has to be organic, and setting rigid targets just does not fit with how I work. When I’m writing a book, I can often write up to 4,000 words a day. But I have to be inspired and have a project clearly worked out in my head to do that. For me, the writing is something I have to and do approach professionally. If I were to sit down this month and force out 50,000 words then the chances are that I know that it would not be something that was good or that I felt was worth revising. Maybe that does make me sound pretentious? But each person has their own approach to writing, and setting a target for one month of the year isn’t my way.
Zoë, however, does NaNoWriMo every year; that train is never late! “Curse of the other world”has been her title for at least the last three years running, and she never seems to be happy with it. Each year she comes back and starts again from scratch. In Zoë’s case, my advice would be (and I hope she does consider it) this: write. Keep writing. Don’t get bogged down on any one bit. Even if there are parts that you feel are weak, keep going and revise it only when you have a first draft complete. After that you can come back and revise it.
Remember: no book is published as a first draft. They are all edited and go through rewrites to make it good, so you should not feel disappointed if there are bits of your first draft that you aren’t happy with.
For the record, I did do NaNoWriMo one year. I just happened to be in the zone for that month so thought “what the hell”. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was I wrote though, but I think I was happy enough to keep working on it and subsequently edit it long after the month was over.