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The Great Frantic Novel

I’m sitting here going over a 500 word document that I wrote almost exactly five months ago. It’s the first chapter in a novel I started to write but gave up on. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel (you could say it’s a Gonzo novel) but artistic licence has obviously been taken in certain instances. I enjoyed writing it but that joy only lasted a couple of days until I because a bit busier in work and at home.

Today I visited http://www.nanowrimo.org/ – the webpage for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo!). To quote them, it’s “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing”.

The idea is that between November 1st and November 30th, members write a novel – defined as 175 pages or 50,000 words. During the month there are regular newsletters and meet-ups with fellow members (Wrimos) to offer encouragement and to discuss ideas. There is also one final meet where, to quote again, “the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children” are undertaken.

Sounds like fun to me!

As you can imagine, a cluster of random people brought together with the idea of writing a great novel is undoubtedly going to result in pages upon pages of drivel. That is the genius of NaNoWriMo! The whole principle is to produce a novel with a “kamikaze approach”: lowering your own expectations and taking risks to complete something where the completion is more important than the quality of the end-product. To not get scared away by the time and effort required, the determination and meticulous ability – not to mention the continual fine-tuning and editing processes.

Affiliates are given permission to encouraged to make mistakes and to just create – “to build without tearing down”. “[To start] the month as mechanics, out-of-work actors and teachers [and to] walk away novelists.”

Us Wrimos (I’m one of them now!) write without having to obsess over quality. We will be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties and will be able to mock ‘real novelists’ who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.Come on… let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.