NaMoWriMo thoughts

Expanded from comments in this thread.

For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaMoWriMo. In the month of November, tens of thousands of people will attempt to write a novel of at least 50,000 words, and thousands will likely succeed.

I know people–people I respect a fair amount–who have benefitted from NaMoWriMo, and I know others who have written books in other months who have also benefitted from the exercise.

I also know that there’s value in knowing one can finish a book at all–my perspective on writing changed forever once I’d completed Ghost Horse.

And the NaMoWriMo organizers themselves don’t claim this is anything but a way of completing a first draft.

But NaMoWriMo still strikes me as a bad idea–from the perspective of my writing process, at least.

I know I can finish a book. What I want to do now, with each book I write, is to finish a book that in some way is better than the one before.

It’s dangerous to get so caught up in language and theme and underpinnings and such that one never finishes the work. But these things do matter, and they take time, and attention. One can’t learn about them if one’s rushing to get a book done in a month.

And while I know the value of writing fast for building a career, and while every writer I know, myself included, would love to produce more books in less time, I think speed has become overrated.

I think there’s value in taking time with a book, in getting things right, in striving–even if one fails–to make the book work on all levels.

Possibly NaMoWriMo is the sort of thing that one ought to consider doing once, but only once.

I read a lot of books that make me think: this book needed more polish, more depth, more time.

I think in the furor and adrenaline-rush energy of NaMoWriMo–and in a writing world more focused on plot and structure than craft and language in general–it’s easy to lose sight of the value of taking that time.

I’m starting a novel. I’m not going to wait until November to start it, and it probably won’t be done by the time November is through

I plan to spend November like every other month: making as much time for writing fiction as I can.

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