On Writing Quickly: NaNoWriMo 2015


Am I the only writer who faces this problem?

It’s a day off work. I sit at the computer, determined to get a good few thousand words written on my novel. I write a paragraph. Then I check Facebook. And the news headlines. I write another paragraph. Then I wonder what reviewers made of the last ‘Doctor Who’ episode. Oh, look, there’s an email, I should check that out! And another paragraph…

Sometimes the words just zing out of the fingers and onto that blank page. And other times it’s so tedious that I’ll do anything to avoid grinding out yet another sentence.

Which is why I thought I’d try the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. I’d never heard of National Novel Writing Month before. This now international scheme encourages you to commit to writing a novel in November--well, 50,000 words. You sign up on-line, provide a title and blurb for your novel, and you update your word count every day. I decided to work on ‘The Temptation of Dragons.’ I was 10,000 words in, but I didn’t include those in the word count for the contest. 

The pressure was on. I already faced the difficulty of catching up from a four day break in the middle (to visit friends in Wales), as well how to find writing time in some rather full days. But I managed to complete my 50,000 words a day early and I got my certificate!

I thought I’d wait a few weeks to reflect on the experience before writing about it. So, what are the pros and cons?

Pros:

With the pressure to hit my daily word target, I was able to keep far more focussed. Less wandering onto social media sites.

My imagination seemed to rise to the occasion. New scenes emerged as I needed them.

I discovered another community of writers out there!

Cons:

I seem to have concentrated mostly on dialogue. At the editing stage I’ll need to go back and add more description into scenes.

It worked for ‘The Temptation of Dragons’ because the novel is meant to be light and funny. I'm not certain whether a serious novel could be written under those pressures. Well, not by me, anyway.

I’m certain there will be a larger number of typos along the way.

I have decided that it was a useful experience. And I plan to try to participate again next year. Anyone want to join me?