October 3, 2013

NaNoWriMo - The Crazy Writing November

Dear M,

It's October already, and we are less than one month away from NaNoWriMo - the National Novel Writing Month. (The 'National' in the name is misleading. It has been an international activity for many years now, but the name has a rhythm, I guess that's why no one wanted to change it. Besides, writers don't give much attention to titles except when it is the title of their own book.).

I have participated in NaNoWriMo twice, and the only thing I can say is, until you take part - in all sincerity and honesty and dedication - you will not know what it means. It sounds very simple in theory. Complete 50K of words in your current Work-in-progress or a new one in thirty days. Which comes to 1.667 words a day. Which translates to roughly 5 or 6 pages a day. Now you get the hint. Creative folks know that creative juices don't flow in five or six pages every day. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Many days it will be more like 1 or 2 pages, sometimes it is like ten. If you know this, then you are ready for NaNoWriMo.

However, to get the best out of NaNoWriMo, a good amount of groundwork is required. That is, if you are serious about writing. The best way to approach NaNoWriMo is to prepare months in advance. A large percentage of people who participate in NaNoWriMo begin to think of "what to write" on Oct 31st. If that is the case, my recommendation is, don't do it.

Why did the concept of NaNoWriMo come up in the first place? Because writers are such a lazy lot. They try their best to not write. Can't blame them though, it is difficult to be self-motivated, every day of every year. There are a hundred reasons that could take us away from writing. However, only one to continue writing: that I must finish it. We are happy that we have those hundred excuses to run away from writing. The point is, what might take us five months to finish, we are attempting in one. Discipline is the keyword.

A novel needs so much preparation before the actual writing: understanding the plot to as much detail as possible, understanding and developing the various characters, even the one who comes to give tea to the protagonist and vanishes after that one scene (well, not so much, I guess, but that is the idea). Every little detail needs to be worked out beforehand. Even without these, a novel can be written. But when you send it out to your editor or publisher, they are going to tell you, your novel isn't good. I don't think I need to clarify any more!

By a strange coincidence, today when I came to my desk determined to write about NaNoWriMo, voila - there was an email from NaNoWriMo folks about it. I have decided not to participate this year (though I will miss the madness) because I have to pay attention to a couple of other unfinished projects. But I will be setting my own goals in November to ensure that these unfinished businesses are attended to. A writer who does not finish his projects will never be an author.


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