Sunday, November 05, 2006

Why would anyone participate in National Novel Writing Month?

This month I decided to participate in the mind-blowing event known as the National Novel Writing Month. It is mind-blowing mainly because I'm very likely to hate writing after putting down 50,000 words. People might wonder who would be driven to write 50,000 words in 20 days. To be frank, I'm not sure why I did it - but I like writing, and if anything NaNoWriMo will at least teach me how to stretch out a story for 100 pages. Some of my friends who are participating with me claim that the idea is not to write a comprehensive story but simply to write 50,000 words. That to me defies all logic. While I can see what's desirable about writing a novel all in one go, because otherwise that novel wouldn't be written, why would anyone write a nonsensical story that goes places only because the author has run out of ideas? to be sure, National Novel Writing Month isn't about improving one's writing style. That takes, time, effort, and dedication. Writing a cluster of random sentences in the style of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am sounds like a lot of extraneous effort for no apparent reason.

So why am I attempting to write 50,000 words when I could make sure that I could update my blog regularly with nice, long entries? I see NaNoWriMo as a way to test my writing skills. I like to write, but I don't appreciate essays for school. Part of the allure of a blog is that I can write in whatever style I wish, about anything I wish. I can write about what I think is significant. Restrictive school essays only bring me a feeling of anxiety - Will the teacher appreciate my composition or not? School essays simply don't encourage kids and teenagers to write. The constant feeling of dread associated with regularly assigned essays only brings a desire to escape from the cycle of writing long passages and hoping for the best.

Some writers feel bitter about National Novel Writing Month. I know some people who feel that the event emphasizes quantity over quality and therefore has no merits as a serious event. That is an over-generalization. The quality of the novel written depends on the author's skill. A mediocre writer will pen a mediocre story. That story will happen to be 50,000 words long. Perhaps the story could have been better if the author wasn't so rushed? That is a valid argument, but it fails to consider authors who both write quickly and write well. Perhaps I lack modesty when I claim that I belong to the latter category. I am not ashamed to admit that I am quick on me feet in my head. Though I may lack a wide vocabulary, I feel that my abilities as a writer are sufficient enough that I am not simply writing crap. Everything I have written thus far has been comprehensible and comprehensive.

NaNoWrimo certainly isn't for the weak-willed. It requires skill (to a degree), dedication, and time. It takes me an hour to an hour and a half to write 1,700 words. A cumulative count of the time I've spent thus far writing my novel adds up to perhaps six hours or so in four days. (I am writing my novel at night.) Undoubtedly I could have spent that time for purposes for constructive and less lofty than a goal of 50,000 words. So far my schoolwork has not suffered, so I know that it is my free time that is being spent, not my studying time; that is taking into account the homework I receive from a competitive high school.

Inevitably I must sum up this entry with a question: Why would I participate in an event that takes up a great deal of time, requires much of my brainpower, cuts into my free time, and needs me to do work I normally would shy away from? The answer is simple. I like writing.

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