Why NaNoWriMo?

I don’t understand the point of NaNoWriMo. If people spew out 50,000 words in a month, how can any of those words be any good? Unless the writers are very talented, in which case why aren’t they already writing? So why do it? To say they did? I’ve been told that anyone trying to write that fast will write drivel, that the question at the end of the month is: Is it salvagable drivel?

For me, the answer would be no. I’ve been playing around this month with writing quantity rather than quality, and I didn’t get anything except flak from my main character who thinks I should be working harder to get him to safety. It wasn’t pretty. This is the end of the conversation. You can see the whole thing at my Pat Bertram Introduces blog.

Bertram: I really want to know. What would be doing if you weren’t talking to me?

Chip: Going home. I have a cat waiting for me. You’ve left us alone so long, it’s probably gone by now.

Bertram: Not yet, he’s still waiting for you. And he’s doing well. He’s quite a self-sufficient creature, you know.

Chip: It. It’s an it, not a he. “He assumes humanness, and it’s a higher life form than any human I’ve ever met.

Bertram: Okay. It’s waiting for you.

Chip: I hear that patronizing tone in your voice. I don’t have to put up with it.

Bertram: Oh, but you do. I’ve pledged to write 2000 words tonight, and since you’re not giving me anything to work with, we’re going to keep at this until you do.

Chip: What do you need from me?

Bertram: Something to make you real in my head so that I can hardly wait to work on your story everyday. Something that excites me so that I can’t stop thinking about it.

Chip: No one can do that. You’ve read so much you’re jaded, and now you expect me to supply the excitement you once found while reading. But at least you’re working again.

Bertram: But the writing is awful. I can’t use any of it for the book.

Chip: So? I thought the point was to write whatever flows out of your mind.

Bertram: I didn’t expect such drivel. I’d hoped for magic.

Chip: We all hope for magic. Few of us get it.

Bertram: Now we’re getting somewhere. Did you hope for magic?

Chip: Maybe.

Bertram: Then you got it, didn’t you? One day your world was the same as it always was, and the next . . .

Chip: It changed. Nothing is the same. Nothing is real.

Bertram: How does that make you feel?

Chip: What are you, my therapist?

Bertram: Just answer the question.

Chip: It makes me feel frightened. Awed. Unsettled. Lonely. Desperate. Excited. Except for the bugs. I can do without those.

Bertram: You have to admit, it’s interesting for a character who professes to love animals to have an aversion to bugs.

Chip: Big bugs. Two-inch beetles. Seven-foot millipedes. Next thing I know, you’re going to have dragonflies with six-foot wingspans.

Bertram: Great idea, but I don’t want to overdo the bug thing.

Chip: Believe me, I don’t want you to overdo it either. Can I go home now?

Bertram: As soon as you give me something to work with.

Chip: Looks like it’s going to be a very long night.

2 Responses to “Why NaNoWriMo?”

  1. K.S. Clay Says:

    I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month this year and I’ll answer your questions, at least as they pertain to me:

    Why aren’t I already writing? I am. I’m always working on a story of some sort. National Novel Writing Month isn’t an opportunity for me to start writing. That’s not the point. It’s a chance to challenge myself and it’s kind of cool to know that there are so many other people participating in the same challenge.

    Will I hurt myself by writing too fast and shoot my story in the foot? I don’t think so. I like to throw myself full force into my stories, to live and breathe them. When my writing is too spaced out it doesn’t flow together and the details of the story get fuzzy in my head. I overanalyze things and I end up hesitating to work on the story for fear I’ll mess it up. I guess we’re just different. Some of my best writing has even been timed (I set a kitchen timer for an hour and make myself write without pausing until it beeps). For me, writing quickly works.

  2. Bertram Says:

    One of the most fascinating things I’ve learned since starting this blog is how different we all are in the way we write. For me, analyzing is the story.

    Best of luck to you next month.


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