NaNoWriMo is, for those of you who don’t know yet, National Novel Writing Month. Every November thousands of budding authors set down in front of their key boards and have exactly one month to write at least a 50,000 word novel, which is roughly the length of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, or a number of far worse books. In the last `8 years it has exploded from 21 people taking part to nearly half a million in 2015, and almost half of those taking part winning the challenge. Those that win get 5 free paperback copies of their novel and the option to get it published on Amazon.
And it is utter bollocks.
NaNoWriMo proudly state that everybody has a novel inside of them, and this is an attempt to drag it out of everyone. It’s a very noble and creative cause, but surely there are better ways to get people to get those ideas own on paper rather than under stress of a time limit and word count. It’s like being back at uni cramming over night to get a late essay finished before the dean has your guts for garters.
If you are looking to get people to get their best possible work on the page, then why not offer them a bigger reward and give them a longer time to do the work? The novels that are written aren’t vetoed for quality or content either, so people have in the past “won” by typing 50,000 words of utter bilge under the guise of a humour novel and had the manuscript printed. Admittedly there are some genuinely funny ones, looking at you Ashens with your “50,000 Shades of Grey”, the greatest reference text on the phrase “shades of grey” in the world, featuring 50,000 examples. Incidentally, if you really want o kill a joke someone has thought long and hard about over, explain it on a blog no one will read. My grandmother taught me that.
The lack of quality control is only one issue – as I mentioned earlier, those taking part have to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s longer than many a PhD dissertation in 1 thirty sixth of the time. It roughly equates to around 1,667 words a day, roughly the length of a first year student essay. And those taking part haven’t got the advantage of just padding out their bibliography with books they haven’t actually used. It’s just another level of stress to add on top of writing something engaging and entertaining.
I have noticed that I keep using student similes, and this may have to do with me reading my old university work today whilst bored, or it could just be that I’m an unoriginal sod. Probably the latter.
So why on Earth do people do NaNoWriMo? Well, I’m going to find out. I oppose all the limits and restrictions, but maybe that is why so many people do it. You work best under tight rules and regulations as it forces you to be creative and push personal boundaries – anyone who has wrote for children’s television can attest to that, as they try and get in as many rude reference the children won’t get as possible.
With November coming around again I thought I’d finally write that Novel that I’ve had inside of me for years, but always would “get round to it”. But now I have a fixed date and a time limit, and I know what I must do. Plus any excuse to sit down and write whilst listening to David Bowie is welcomed.
God I’m a pretentious tosser.