The National Novel Writing Month, or #Nanowrimo to use the modern parlance, is an event I’ve seen all over social media this month. Essentially – write a novel of 50,000 words in the month of November. I hadn’t heard of this before, but it’s quite a nice idea. Having a daily word count tracker to see how much you’ve done, personalised badges along the way, and most importantly, access to forums and other writers for inspiration and to motivate you as you go along. This is all good stuff. But I don’t think it’s something I could ever be a part of.
Why? 50,000 words in a month works out at just under 2,000 words a day. Which is manageable if you get on a good run. But sustaining that output for 30 days would be beyond me. And even if I could do it, the quality of my writing would be abysmal. I guess the point of the event is to overcome the fear of being able to write that number of words in the first place, and have somewhere to turn when it all seems impossible. I get that.
However that fear isn’t one I possess anymore. My problem is the opposite. As soon as I think that a story is running into novel territory (over 30,000 words is my benchmark) the story seems to expand and expand until the finishing line is an every distant mirage. And trying to get wrapped up by a certain date is beyond me. With my current novel, I gave myself a loose date of my birthday to get the first draft finished. Well that’s been and gone. Then it was before I go to New York on holiday. That’s in about three hours time, so that’s out the window as well. So now we’re looking at Christmas, which will be about 400 days since I started on the damn thing. Even then I’m fairly sure I will overrun into 2018, which means I will have spent the entire calendar year working on this novel. Beggars belief.
Have I lost the ability to write concise prose? That’s the question I ask myself. I shuffle along at 500 words a day like the tortoise rather than the hare. And will still be going long after everyone else has packed up and gone home. 50,000 words in a month? No chance. I’m lucky to write a third of that in 30 days. 180,000 words and counting in just over a year? I’m your man.