Thursday, November 4, 2010

Speed Writing

November is national novel writing month apparently, complete with its own official contest/project whereby writers everywhere are charged with scribbling out 50,000 coherent words that form a story (a novel) or at least the beginnings of one before December rolls around.  It's name is NaNoWriMo and its purpose is to get writers, young and old, experienced and inexperienced, writing - of all things.

I appreciate this event's attempt to kick the asses of every chronically procrastinating writer, prompting a rapid expulsion of ideas onto paper or word processor at such a rate that the creative mind has little time to filter or agonize over any word, line, or passage throughout the month.  Fifty thousand words is a lot to write out in thirty days and comes out to about 1667 words per day, a good five pages of writing in a composition notebook, more than enough to produce a decent amount of brain fatigue and intense finger cramping.

Last year I did indeed attempt "win" the contest (no one actually wins but you can consider yourself a winner if you make it to the minimum word count within the month) and surprisingly got around to about 12,000 words after about as many days (I started a bit late).  Unfortunately, my inherent self-critical nature then decided to step in and point out the obvious: that what I had written was poorly slapped together drivel that looked like something I would have written during summer break after my junior year in high school.

It was then that I realized that as noble as an idea as it is, forcing writers to pour out a story with little attention to how the language is actually crafted can in the long run be somewhat self-defeating  While I admit I did get a few ideas down on paper during that week, since then I have completely restructured the way in which I wish to present my novel and so very little of that writing has been or will be useful to me - there's a good chance its all been thrown out or deleted by now.

Honestly I'm torn though, it is still a good idea to get writers writing, regardless of the outcome.  Any writing, even terrible writing, can be good practice if the writer knows that they need improving.  And really, the only sure way to improve is to practice, practice, practice...

All the same I won't be participating in NaNoWriMo this time around but I salute those who are making the attempt.  Your dedication is greater than mine and I respect anyone who is able to produce something worthwhile and on its way to eventual publication under such conditions.