Should I NaNo?
6th Oct 2011 in Writing
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an annual creative writing event, held every November, where participants write a 50-000 word novel in 30 days. It’s wonderful, it’s horrible, and I love it.
In 2006 I was in my final year of university. I was studying English Lit, my dissertation was on retold fairytales, and I didn’t have a fucking clue what I was doing. So, purely as a distraction from the car-crash that was my dissertation, I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50,000 words of rambling nonsense about a fairytale princess, her robot boyfriend and her mermaid best friend living in modern-day Glasgow. It was a total mess, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. I felt exhilarated by the experience – this writing malarkey wasn’t so hard after all! I resolved to fix up my novel into something halfway decent, and started looking forward to the following year’s NaNo. (By the way, I finally got my shit together with my dissertation and ended up with a 2:1 honours degree, so it all worked out okay.)
I completed NaNo in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. I soon learned not to take it very seriously – I was also studying for an MLitt in Creative Writing, writing short stories and poems, etc. and in my head that was my ‘real’ writing – but oh, it was fun. It was made even more fun when my good friend Avery Oslo started to NaNo too, so every December we traded novels and crowed over the horrendous scenes we’d written.
In 2010, for the first time since I signed up, I didn’t participate in NaNo. I was a ‘proper’ writer now, working on a ‘proper’ novel, and I couldn’t take the time out. But I missed it. The frantic production of words! The all-encompassing obsession with people I had made up! The cancelling of all unnecessary commitments with impunity! Oh, happy days.
So now it’s 2011, and I’ve almost finished my second ‘proper’ novel (which just seems to mean that it took longer than a month to write and has fewer meandering, misspelled paragraphs about sex and self-indulgence). I do have time to do NaNo, if I want to. But should I? Do I need it? Do I want it?
I’d love to know what you think. Have you NaNo-ed? Do you plan to?