In this month of November with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) going on this post might seem like a dissenting voice. It isn’t meant to be that. I think this project – impetuous and mad as it is – is a great way for a new writer to hurl themselves into the business of writing a long piece. Too often I met writers who said they had a ‘great idea for a novel’. Have you written any of it? I’d ask. Not yet, they’d say. And that Not yet is a problem.
So NaNoWriMo is the perfect way to leap into the deep end and force that ‘great idea’ into a 50,000 word novel.
But it wouldn’t work for me.
I take six months to write a novel.
You might think that during that ‘six months’ I get up and sit at my desk every day, all day long , until I have the finished piece. No, I write in short bursts with long gaps in between. I might write a few pages and then go out or do something else. I leave the work to ‘ferment’.
The gaps in time between my working (typing) hours are important because it distances me from what I’ve written and allows my mind to tinker away with the story/characters/settings. When I return to the work I am no longer so emotionally attached to it. It doesn’t have the blood, sweat and tears I put into writing it. So I can read it over with a dispassionate eye and alter it, re-order it, get rid of it.
The same goes for the plot. I don’t plan (much) in advance. I have an idea and a direction and I hope for the best. This works well because it allows the story to take its own shape and form. So on week thirteen (for example) of writing I may completely change the plot direction. Because I’ve written the piece over a long time, thought and thought about it, tinkered with it, thrown out some earlier stuff then I don’t mind that it’s changing from the book I first thought of.
Time is the very thing I need to make a plot work. No, NaNoWriMo would not work for me.
But I wish lots of luck for all those involved in it this year.