Of the writing of novels for fun and pleasure

November is rapidly approaching and with it comes one of the most popular novel-related events in the world: NaNoWriMo, or the “Let’s go crazy and write an entire novel in November” international event. If you manage it, you can win a few goodies (traditionally, some people offer to print your work and send it to you, or you get discounts for writerly tools and other such).

It’s pretty simple: you sign up on the site, start writing on November 1st, check out the forums, make friends and update the word count.

Me? I’m a huge fan of NaNo, even though I probably won’t manage to be a part of it this year. And trust me, it takes a hell of a lot to make me say I won’t be there. (realism, for example, and an awareness of my available time and beloved projects)

But I think NaNo is one of the experiences one should have in life. If you’ve ever liked stories in any way, shape or form (books, games, movies, series), if you’ve ever dreamed of things that might happen, of people who don’t exist, of stories that nobody else told you, NaNo is something you should do. It’s fun.

I like bullet points today, here are a few.

  • NaNo is about enthusiasm and excitement. There’s something about tens or hundreds of thousands of people writing together that makes it an event, something you’re part of. You race to write words, you share things, you wake up at 5 AM to type down this thing you didn’t manage to write at 11 PM last night because you were sleepy.
  • NaNo is about discovering your creative side in a good way. It pushes you to keep going, it provides the context and the support – and it allows you to tap into the creative side of you, to discover what stories you have to tell and how you want to tell them. Whether you hit the official word count by the end of November or not, you’ll have won something.
  • NaNo is about quantity, not quality. Your story will probably not be publishable by the end of November, but that’s okay. Quantity is more measurable that quality and being able to put in the quantity will make you realize that you have the strength to do this.
  • NaNo is about finding out what writing is all about. If you’ve never written before, or if you only wrote a bit and never went too far, you get to discover all the problems, difficulties and so forth of writing. You get to know the ropes of doing this – are you a planner? Someone who needs to invent things as they go? Where do you get discouraged?

NaNo is, in other words, enriching. Mind you, I’m not saying that NaNo will make you rich in the very literal sense of having a lot of money. Most of what me and my friends managed to produce by trying to hit a word count in November was crap. Even Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which was written in first draft during a NaNo, was initially crap and it needed a lot of fixing before it became an international bestseller and had a movie made after it. But that crap can be the foundation of something great.

And if it’s not… NaNo is like an exciting, free camp where you get to meet people and have fun while fooling around creatively.

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