Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Saturday, July 18, 2009

I've been putting off writing this post for a couple of hours, now. Not because of the subject matter (obviously) but because I feel quiet. There's no room for quiet in NaBloPoMo, only constant chatter, and that sure does get old. It's fine for testing myself, but I don't think I'll do it again. I don't like spending 1 to 2 1/2 hours per day (depending on how often I'm interrupted) blabbing about nothing. I've gotten a couple of gems out of it, maybe, but I may feel they're gems only because of the shit which surrounds them.

Bloggers get advice to write posts regularly to draw readers, but you know what? If I come across a blog I like, I subscribe to the feed. I know if there is a new post I'll be alerted. It's not the frequency with which they post that keeps me reading. In fact, if the posts come far enough apart, it's a nice surprise when they do show up in my reader.

I feel the same way about NaNoWriMo. It was a good exercise I don't feel compelled to repeat. The pressure to produce words over meaning is ultimately destructive, for me, at least. It's a really cool idea, and I'm glad a lot of people have enjoyed the experience, but I do hope those people are actually thinking about whether or not it's right for them, rather than just getting caught up in the enthusiastic atmosphere as I did. I did it two years. The first book is sitting half-finished, abandoned, and the second one I'm still trying to straighten out. Not only did I fail both years, adding to my guilt, but I actually created a huge amount of extra work for myself. Hindsight.

I know some of you really believe in NaNoWriMo, and a lot of you have participated in NaBloPoMo. What did/do you get out of them?

(This post took only 20 minutes. The day I feel the least like blogging was the easiest. Hm.)

{ 9 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Well, I believe in NaNoWriMo for me. Like the many other ways of getting words on a page, it isn't for everyone. But since I've gone back and finished/edited different NaNo novels, I feel it isn't a waste of my time. And I've got other NaNo novels in a file that I'm going to finish. Just last week I pulled out the next one I want to do.

    I like NaNo because it shuts up the whirring in my head as I overthink everything. I get the praise I want because the main thing is get the word count. I do that and--hurray! But I do want the writing to be good so then I have my project for the year.

    I also go to the write-ins and a few other social NaNo events--hosted 4 write-ins myself--and this has helped me meet other writers. One of my best writing friends ever I met through NaNo.

    So while I don't think NaNo will make anyone a great writer, it can be helpful if you figure how to use it to suit your talents and abilities. I just love the rush of working out the plot in the moment. This happens....then this...and oh yeah that. Sure most of it gets cut, but that doesn't bother me. I don't see it as a loss--it is part of the process. I needed to write the crap to get to what works. Well, assuming I recognize what works. But that is another issue.

    BUt like I said, no one needs to do NaNo. It is fun, but it is not the end all be all. Every writer has got to find the way that works for her.

  2. Sherri -- I feel much the same way, actually. I have only done NaNoWriMo once, and that novel is still sitting with about 51,000 words, incomplete, and in need of so much work that it might as well just be started over from scratch and written in the "typical" way. I know the process works great for a lot of people. Hell, look at Ian's progress with it. But I felt torn during the process. While I appreciated that it forced me to sit, focus, and just WRITE (which is often my greatest obstacle... just getting there), I wasn't sure it did a lot for me in the days afterward. I was so focused on the 50K finish line (all while knowing that 50K is not actually long enough by most standards for a complete novel), and by the time I got there (about 10 days later), I was too wiped out and fatigued by my idea to do anymore with it.

    I have thought about doing it again. Even have a few ideas in mind for it. But I do fear a repeat of the same thing. I think it comes down to this. When I actually WANT to write, I write like gangbusters. I wrote a 25000 word novella in 36 hours once. I can usually write a 6000 word short story in a day, if the story is good enough and the idea is complete in my mind and doesn't require much more brainstorming. I can write blogs daily when the mood strikes. I think I wrote a blog every day for almost two years without a break on my old Memoirs of a Gouda blog. But when I don't want to write, or when I feel I'm being pressured to, or when I get this sinking feeling that I'm not doing it for the "right" reasons, my brain clams up and not one more word will come from it. I have to write by my own clock, and not some arbitrary time line. This is probably why I may not do NaNo this year. But who knows. If the right idea strikes at the right time (late October) and I don't have to ruminate on it too long waiting for November 1st to pop up, it may happen. But I am happy to say I at least tried it before knocking it. A lot of people don't even do that much.

  3. I've never done NaNo, and have no plans to. At first it struck me as a really great idea, and I believe under the right circumstances it IS a great idea, and a fantastic tool for writers. Writers can mash through their novel and get themselves started, or they can get a jump start, or whatever.

    But I'm like you. If I fail, I fail. And I don't want to fail at anything. And I know myself well enough to know I can't necessarily pump something out every single day. As much as I'd love to be like Stephen King and crank 2K every single day no matter how long it takes, I can't do that. I know it. Why set myself up for failure?

    But I have considered using NaNo to complete a detailed rough or outline for an idea I've had kicking in my head. Problem is, I don't think it'd end up 50K and then I'd be back to my failure game.

    I think in the end it scares me too much. It's always at a bad time of year for me too (except this year when ALL year's been a bad time), because that's normally when I'm facing end-of-contract issues and worries and such.

    I've got legitimate reasons for NOT doing it, and except for facing down the challenge of DOING it, I haven't got any compelling reasons to try it. So why bother with the stress and pressure and head- and heartache when I don't have to?

    As for blogging ... I only do it five days a week, and it's PLENTY hard. And I try to keep those to 750 words or less. I can see how trying to do it every day for a month would get difficult. It's tough to stay interesting.

    Most of that information about how to get and keep readers are for business or commercial blogs anyway. Don't fall for it. :)

  4. Tough to stay interesting? I have to get interesting, first. ;)

  5. It sounds to me like you're a more confident writer than you think you are.

  6. I had Ian in mind when I wrote this post. He gets a lot out of Nanowrimo--more, I think, than most people--and apparently so does Mapelba. But with Ian, I think that's pretty much how he writes anyway. He goes fast, doesn't stop till he's done. I'm a thinker. I have to let a day's work sink in before I move on. Sometimes that's a day, sometimes a week.

    My first nano book is still viable, I think, if I ever went back to it. I want to get this one straightened out first, though.

  7. I have to agree about the quality versus quantity, although my first drafts really aren't that bad if I can bear to move ahead. I am not really a consistent speed when I write, either. I can write a scene and zip right through it, or beat my head against a mental wall (like my present short story project) but it's overall not a really quick pace. *shrugs* Just who I am, and I can live with that. :)

  8. Honey if you weren't already interesting, we wouldn't be here.

  9. I blog every day because I like the challenge, partly, and mostly because it's how I "keep in touch" with people. I think it's my way of saying to the world, "I'm still alive, I'm still here!" I don't expect gems from anything I write because in my mind, it's just chit-chat, like if I actually had friends over and we were sitting around my imaginary table indulging in coffee and coffeecake. Plus, not being a writer, I don't have that "standard" to maintain. So, no pressure, other than the pressure to just say "Hello, here I am, how are you?"


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