NaNoWriMo vs TyFaLoSta

For some reason that is most likely attributable to brain damage, I decided to try NaNoWriMo this year.  For those unfamiliar with this phenomenon, that term is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month.  The idea is to get as many people as possible to spew out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Don’t expect to see the results of these efforts to be published any time soon.  Few works of fiction are written in 30 days, with the possible exception of the “Twilight” series.  (Tolstoy labored for a least a sixty or seventy days on “War and Peace”, I’m sure.)

Then why NaNoWriMo?  To quote Monty Python, “A fair question and one that in recent weeks has been much on my mind.”  The point of NaNoWriMo is to instill the discipline of writing every day on the budding author.  That’s not a bad thing.

As I see it, there are at least two downsides to this initiative, however.

Besides drilling in the daily writing habit, which is widely but not universally accepted as a necessity in the writing life, it creates the danger of instilling the acceptance of mediocrity.  Even if the “novel” is finished in the allotted time, it’s far from finished.  The first rule of writing (even more than writing every day) is that writing is rewriting.  So you might develop a template or an outline to work from in that short period, but you are nowhere near a novel, possibly not even a story.

Maybe the greater danger is that it might set potential writers up for failure. A good writer is not a typist.  She is an artist who works with a palette of words.  If she doesn’t meet the arbitrary deadline, she might consider herself a failure even before she’s begun the real work of writing a book.

The fact is that anyone can put 50,000 words on (virtual) paper in 30 days.  Look, here are 50 words in a few seconds:

word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word

What did that prove?  That I can type (or in this case, cut and paste) fast.  Thus, I’ve started referring to the event as TyFaLoSta: “Type Fast with Low Standards”.

(To be fair, the official rules state, “Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.”  I’ll have to throw in a word besides “word”.)

Before an image of “sour grapes” enters your mind, let me make it clear that I’m well ahead of the pace required to put 50K words out there (in addition to writing posts for this and the MV blog) but that’s because I’m sort of cheating.  The novel I’m writing is based on a screenplay that I’ve already finished, so the story is already pretty well set.

Anyway, I’m going to finish this novel, but probably not in November… or December… or January.  Creating something of quality that will stay in a reader’s mind for longer than 30 days is more important to me than getting the words down in that time period.

This image expresses my feelings pretty well:

Hmmm… Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, I only need 49 more of these.

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About rickconti

It's not about me, remember?
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