Many of you will know that NaNoWriMo (easier to spell than say) is National Novel Writing Month. The idea is simple; in November, you try to write a certain number of words per day of a new novel, so that by the end of it you have an entirely new and shiny novel written in just one month!
Now, there are quite a few authors out there who are already published like myself, and they have a really disparaging attitude towards NaNoWriMo. They consider it only something that wannabe writers do, people who can’t actually write. They think that if someone forces themselves to write every day, the quality may not always be that high. They reckon that publishers are going to be sick and tired of receiving badly edited and poorly thought through manuscripts in December!
And in a way, they are right. We have to be honest with ourselves here, and say that although NaNoWriMo is a fantastic way to encourage people to be more scheduled and targeted with their writing, no novel in its first draft format is ready to be seen by anyone except maybe your editor (and your mother!). Any piece of writing needs time to breathe, editing, proofreading, and my favourite test of all: would my friends actually want to read this if it was written by someone else?
But that does not mean that NaNoWriMo does not have an incredible value, and in some ways, it does especially for authors like me. Sometimes I can get so swept up in all of the chaos of normal researching, editing, thinking, and planning that I realise that I haven’t actually written anything new in days – or sometimes weeks. NaNoWriMo is a great reminder that as writers we should be practising our craft, and that means daily practising to keep our pens sharp.