It’s another Throwback Thursday! And it being November, it’s time for the classic “Don’t Do Nano” post that made waves years ago. The funny thing is, ha ha, guess what I’m doing this year? Yep. I evolved. But this is the post that started it all, including a mention on TIME’s website and an interview on NPR.
I reread this post and I think, boy, I was all about prescriptivism back then. I look at my writing practice and really, while I have done what I call “writing with my eyes closed” thing, my work has been really about routine, steady, writing. Writing is a muscle — it benefits from daily exercise.
This year, as I said, I’m doing Nano. It’s for a very specific project, in which I am working on a writing team, so to speak, and we decided to use Nano as a way to be accountable. It’s working, but I’m not trying to get 1,500 words a day, and I’m doing what I always have done — routine, steady writing.
Are you doing Nano this year? Good. Happy writing! (But remember to write in December too.)
November is coming and that means NanoWriMo is closing in fast. If you are interested in writing a novel and have never tried, you probably think NaNoWriMo is just the ticket to give you the jumpstart you need.
Don’t do it.
Writing requires steady, consistent effort. Blasting through a novel at over 1000 words a day means that you will get a lot of crap and at the end of the experiment you will have 50,000 words, far too short for any market today.
Some writers liked the sense of cameraderie they can get from NaNoWriMo. Most cities host writing events and there’s plenty of fanfare as people kick off their novels in coffee shops and bookstores.
Don’t get sucked in. Writing is a solitary effort that pays off when you pay close attention to what you are doing. Guaranteed that a lot of those attendees busily typing away for the cameras are not concentrating on the words but rather are thinking, “hey wow! I’m doing it! I’m really writing a novel!”
So you want to write a novel? Bag NaNoWriMo. Instead, use the Jim Van Pelt method:
250 words a day.
That’s it. If you write 250 words a day, at the end of a year you will have over 90,000 words. In other words, you will have a full-length novel. Now, if you are a beginner, that novel might not be any good. But you will have thought about those 250 words and done your best to make them count. Those 250 words will, if you are consistent about writing every day or on a regular schedule, out-do any day’s work on a NaNoWriMo binge.
250 words a day gives you room to do research. It gives you time to read the authors you love so you can look at how they line words up and get to the root of what you love about their work. 250 words a day will give you breathing room and let your writing improve.
250 words a days is all you need. NaNoWriMo? Just hype.