NaNoWriMo and the Internet (by Jason Purslow)

The time I spend on the Internet is usually comprised of watching copious amounts of whatever YouTube is willing to throw at me, dodging trending topics related to One Direction, and then angrily closing Twitter after my failure to do so. And I’ll be the first to admit that when it was being developed, those good folks at Internet Inc. were expecting something a little more production to appear from their brainchild’s use. Thank goodness for NaNoWriMo.

Though unfortunately, when it comes to writing, I have no idea what I’m doing. But fortunately, when it comes to writing, I have no idea what I’m doing. (A little word count extending trick there, you can keep that one.) While the month of November is a fantastic, worldwide summoning of writers who have planned and re-planned every character detail and mannerism down to their main character’s favourite brand of toothpaste, there are those of us who turn up on the 1st without even a name for said character.

This is my second wait in line for the 50k, 30-day thrill ride, and it’ll be the second time I’ve started with nothing as much as a confused look on my face and a cold sweat on my forehead. But when it comes to something such as NaNoWriMo, writers or all ages, styles, genres and experiences are welcome. For an event to cater (and name) what are referred to as ‘rebels’, those of us who aren’t starting a 50,000 word novel from scratch, you start to get a feeling of who is and isn’t welcome, and there’s a very short list for those that aren’t welcome.

There are people that will start for fun, some who are very serious about the event, and those that are curious about how far they can take the idea and run with it. But in my opinion, the point is not your approach, but whether or not you let yourself enjoy writing. You can write 25k, 50k and beyond, but if you’re not enjoying the writing, is it worth it?

The sometimes daunting, yet always unforgiving 1,667 average words per day may feel like it’s constantly looming while you look at cat videos – I mean, work on your novel – and it can start to feel like a punishment for those who dare to take a break. But for every hard swallow of any available emotions you take in order to beat yourself up about what you have or haven’t written that day, the community-driven collective voice of like-minded individuals will swoop down in order to tell you that it’s not in fact the end of the world.

I’ve had miserable days where I’ve struggled and whined out 3,000 words, but I’ve also had days where I’ve gleefully pounded 50 shades of fiction out of my keyboard and loved every unfortunately type I’d had to deal with. The key thing to remember is that if there’s a particular day you’re simply not feeling it, or another where your time restraints viciously bind you main character  into standing still for the day, it’s time to take a deserved break. And after all, you may just find yourself waking up the next morning full of an excited, fiction related blast of energy ready to rejuvenate your main character with that next big scene approaching over the horizon.

Pantsers, planners, poets, playwrights, pensmiths, just a thought courtesy of Darryl Ley that appeared on the NaNoEssex Facebook group I enjoyed: “Every little bit helps [to ensure] your words won’t be deleted on 1st December.”

Well, that post didn’t at all go in the direction I was expecting, and something tells me I’ll be sat here thinking the same thing come November 30th!


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