Today, an old friend told me that she was going to take part in National Novel Writing Month. This November, she plans to write a story that's been knocking about in her head for a few years, putting down 50,000 words in thirty days.
1700 words a day is a good target to aim for if you're writing full time, so I said that I would aim to do the same. I want to kickstart my next book and it sounds like a good way to get into a routine.
However, I'm not convinced that these writing-surge challenges are altogether a good thing, at least not for me.
I like to stare out of windows most of the time, then spend five hours whittling a sentence till there's nothing left but bare meaning. Many writers will tell me that's not a healthy way to work, and maybe they're right, but here's the thing: I don't like being told what to do or how to do it.
Handbags down please.
Seriously, I have a three-year-old daughter who handles that side of things quite adequately. If I do NaNoWriMo, that'll be 30 days of being told what to do. By myself. And I hate it when I tell me what to do.
This is apparently a short story by Ernest Hemingway:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
That's pretty good isn't it? Packs quite a punch. I'd wager it says more than the result of most 30 day surges. So this is what I think: whether or not you're planning on writing a lot of words in November (and I think I am) consider trying something else as well: writing slowly, with thought and care.
This November, write fifty words. Make every one count.
(And good luck Lindsay!)