November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 - Day 1

I'm well aware of the bad reputation NaNoWriMo has in certain circles, particularly those of the haughty literary kind - that it prefers quantity over quality, that there's no minimal threshold, that it's easy to cheat, and so on. Of course, since there's no actual reward at the end other than the novel itself (or however much of it you complete) cheating is pretty pointless. As for the other points, while they're all true, it really shouldn't matter as long as the target - which in my case is to keep writing - is achieved.
Right now I'm not in an MFA program where I would have to churn out material, I don't have an agent and/or editor pressuring me to work, and I don't even have a significant other or some other friend pushing me forward by constantly demanding to see what I've done. All I have to keep me at my task is myself, and I'm a pretty lousy boss - I let myself slack off, dedicate time to side projects (including this very blog and 2log) and flit from one project to another without completing any of them. So for me NaNoWriMo is potentially perfect for several reasons:

  • It has an arbitrary deadline, which nonetheless seems more valid than all the other ones I've given myself in the past (perceived public shaming wins again).
  • The deadline is only for the word count - at that point the book does not have to be in any sort of reasonable shape - it's what you'd call a "Zero" draft, not even a first draft, no one is expected to read it.
  • The focus is on writing, which is what I have the most difficulty doing - I can come up with ideas and write super-specific notes for days on end in my notebooks, without ever reaching the point of opening up a Word document and saying, "Go!" NaNoWriMo actually shows me that none of that stuff counts if there's nothing on the page (you'd think I would have figured that out by now...)
Bottom line, if it gets me writing then it's worth it; why should I care if ten thousand hacks are doing the same thing at the same time? As Faulkner already said (in one of the quotes that appear on the sidebar) -
"The writer's only responsibility is to his art... Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written."

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