< Blog Home

Put the Nano in WriMo


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.

'Nano' writing.

This November, write fifty words. Make every one count.

(And good luck Lindsay!)