Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Nanowrimo if you want to

Yes, it's that time of year again when well meaning authors get on their high horses and let rip their opinions about the 30 day extravaganza that is the National Novel Writing Month.

On one side of the fence we have have the miserable lot telling us that no decent novel can be written in 30 days (despite the fact that when it comes down to brass tacks it is only 1667 words a day and that is do-able if you really put your mind to it). They tell us that it's contrived and that it's absolute nonsense that everyone has a novel in them. They bemoan the idea that it minimises their craft so that everyone thinks that they can write a book and that it's easy. (I used to be a teacher. You've no idea how many people thought teaching was a piece of cake and if we were just tougher on the pupils then everything would fall into place. That was before they complained we were too tough on their wee Johnny who had obviously done nothing wrong and was an angel--of course).

On the other side we have the evangelicals trying to convince everyone to have a go, to empty their local supermarket of Doritos, high sugar drinks and caffeinated products. They tell us that two chalkboards and two ink boards filled with notations and post-it notes are the minimum amount of pre-nano preparation we must do, along with joining up to every group we can in order to make the most out of the experience. They tell us it will be the hardest thing we've ever done in our lives and that by December the 1st we'll have done the literary equivalent of climbing Everest.

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I've done Nanowrimo four times and I highly recommend it. I recommend it if you are an author and just want to get a book out, like me or if you've always fancied trying writing. The first year I did Nano, I had been writing Star Trek Voyager fan fiction for friends and posting it online for about a
year. I wanted to write my own character and situations. So I wrote a science fiction story. It wasn't the best book and I had a nervous breakdown right there in the middle of November, which included me ending up off work and on anti-depressants. I suspect Nanowrimo was the only anchor in my storm that year. I finished with hours to go on November 30th and I still have no idea how. That book was published for about five days on Amazon and then I decided I hated it and it was awful and I couldn't in all conscience ask money for it. It was sold under a pen name. The next two years I didn't win but both books were eventually published, One under my old pen name of Krystal Brookes and the other was Restoring Lady Anna. I gave up both years quite early on due to work but I did eventually finish both books.
Last year I took a last stab at the book I had tried to write three times. It was originally entitled Lachlan but when it's released in the next couple of months it shall be called Discovered. It's a futuristic vampire story. The first of the Forsaken Blood series. It's twice the size it was when I finished Nanowrimo last November.

So should you do it? My advice is, do it if you want to. Don't let the naysayers stop you. But do it your way. If you want to have post it notes and coloured mind maps and a garage full of Doritos, knock yourself out. If you prefer to sit down and batter at the keys like one of those monkeys that will hopefully one day produce the entire works of Shakespeare (that's my method) then that's equally valid. The point is to have fun, even if you're an author and this is how you make your living. It's the one point of the year when you have a whole load of company on the crazy and sometimes lonely journey.

And if Nanowrimo isn't your bag, then you don't have to participate. Smile indulgently at us and look forward to Christmas. There's another good thing about Nano. It staves off the dreaded C word for another month.

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