It’s today!. NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month]

I’ve joined in this wonderful month of free writing for the past two years and highly recommend it for any writer at any stage in their career. Ian Rankin and Frederick Forsyth spoke about the positive side of Nanowrimo in 2010  – both admitting their first books had come from a quick, sustained burst of creativity. This year, more than ever, the naysayers have been out in force, telling keen nanowriters that there was no point in joining in, that no one can write a ‘good’ book in thirty days and that the nano-project was damaging and gave false hope to bad writers. Don’t listen to them. Listen to writers like Edna O’Brien who said recently that she’d written her first published book, The Country Girls, in three weeks. She said, ‘the words had poured out’ once she’d committed to the act of writing. For her, writing resides in that place between thought and speech, the place where we self-censor  and self-edit before going public. Her ‘trick’ is to turn off the self-censor and write her thoughts without paying heed to what friends and family think or judge her by.

This year, I’ll be joining in as usual and fitting in an hour or so of free-writing where I don’t self-edit or censor what I think. My beginning came to me last night. A woman loomed out of the night,  sat by my bed and said, ‘My name is Edith Carmichael, here’s my story.’

I’ve re-posted below my ‘non-rules’ for November writing – I hope you join in and find these useful as you begin this exciting adventure.

The first rule of NaNoWriMo is there are no rules

[or should that be ‘there is no rules’?].

Here are my November non-rules:

I will not

  •        Plan
  •        Structure
  •        Re-read
  •        Edit
  •        Spell-check
  •        Re-draft
  •        Fact check
  •        ‘google’ and pretend it’s research
  •        Show it to anyone
  •        Worry that it seems silly

I will

  •        Write and keep on writing until I reach 50,000 words.

Writers can spend weeks, or even months, deliberating over a sentence, a phrase, or whether a semi colon should be a full stop or a comma.

It’s liberating not to worry about anything but the mounting word count.

It’s an added benefit if it makes sense but the point is to write. Write quickly and without thinking too deeply about what you’re writing.

Literary purists will ridicule you. Don’t listen to them. Unfollow them or switch them off for this month. You’re not going to write a perfect novel. What you will get is an idea of the kind of studied concentration, diligence and commitment to completing a task that writers face every waking moment.

You may even find that you like writing.

So. The Golden Non-rule is this: don’t think too much about what people think or even what to write. Just write. You probably won’t have a complete, ready-to-submit to an agent or publisher typescript but this month might be the spur to start that writing project that you keep putting off.

Don’t worry about what you write. Don’t ask for instant feedback from family and friends. Don’t worry. If you get stuck simply write ‘I’M STUCK HERE’ and move on to a completely new scene. Once you’ve completed the 50,000 words take time off – a long time; two months or more, and then go back and assess what you’ve written. You might discard half of it. You might hit delete. Writing is a craft honed over many a deleted paragraph and rejection slip.

That’s not the point. The point is to write.

I’m signed up for Nanowrimo as BookRambler and in the group Scotland – Elsewhere – come and say hello if you decide to join in. 


About Janette Currie

Editor and literary consultant at JC Consultancy. Freelance writer.
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