Tuesday, 13 November 2012

November and novels

I'm almost halfway through National Novel Writing month now and managing to stay ahead of the word targets. I must admit that seeing the bars on my graph grow each day, and remain higher than the 'par' line, is a very satisfying process. Perhaps it's the mathematician in me. I've always been a planner as a novelist, and I've often used spreadsheets and diagrams to help track my progress.

I noticed this year that there were quite a  few acerbic comments from established writers, and others in the literary community, about Nanowrimo. They gave me a moment of doubt. As a published author, several books into my career, was this the right way for me to be writing my next novel? Certainly, it would seem that there were areas of Twitter that didn't think so.

But then I remembered. I wasn't actually writing a novel in a month. I've been planning this book for months and am already at the chapter by chapter stage. And it's not as if I'm going to read through what I've written on November 30th and package it off to my agent on 1st December for submission. I don't actually expect to finish my book by the end of the month, merely write 50,000 words of the first draft, which is little more than a starting point. I've written faster. Everyone's writing process is different. I plan a lot, draft fast, edit rigorously. Others may edit as they go, or labour over each word. 250 words a day, one writer suggests. I'd be so frustrated working at that pace that I think I'd give up. I'm sure many do. Personally, I'm entirely unconvinced that either method is better.

I'm sure that there are writers doing Nanowrimo who do believe that their book will be finished and ready for submission by the beginning of December. But I'd suggest that these people would send out their work before it was ready with or without Nano. I'm sure also that there are many, many terrible November novels received in December by agents and publishers. But there are also examples of lovely, well written books that have come out of the Nano camp. Like this one. And this. There is no argument I could make in defence of Nanowrimo that would make the point better than these two authors already have.

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