Wednesday, 9 November 2011


See, if everyone in the world tries their hand at writing novels, this unbalances the competition levels. What if these people unearth some raw writing talent and score bestsellers with the minimum of effort, while life-long grafters sweat out their twelfth debut, beating off the taxman with a shorn-down pencil? It isn’t likely, granted. What’s more likely is they’ll write a sprawling unfocused mess, one tenth of which is reasonably written. Still. Do we want to encourage untapped talent when there’s already too much to go around?

No other professions have nanomos. What about learning how to use ASCII programming to decode old computer files? Nanoasciipomo? Or how to fix a broken carburettor on the 1950s Buick 6? Nanobufixmo? Why do people think all novel-writing requires is being present at the computer enough to clack out 50000 words? (Which isn’t a novel, anyway, that’s technically a novella. 75000 plus is a novel).

See, the problem with speed-writing for me is the misleading excitement. It feels good to get all those words out, to loose those ideas on the page and get caught up in the fun of writing off the cuff. But at some point, the writing slips into stylistic repetition, flailing form, shambolic structural disaster. All the worst parts of one’s writing tend to pronounce themselves again and again. And since there’s no time to sit and consider solving these problems, the only option is to soldier on making the same mistakes for a whole MS.

Then again, this isn’t universal. Some might plan their work to the letter and use the month to knock out a formidable first draft, using the community as a support bolster. But it pains me to think of all those useless manuscripts festering in drawers condemned to a life of Stendhalian half-finishedness, when with a little more nurturing they could sing like canaries.


  1. I agree Mark. I like the idea of focussing on a task for one month, like writing as many short stories as possible, or using a particular feedback website for a month, and reviewing the task on your blog at the end of the month. I've performed that kind of challenge a few times. But I think writing a novel is a bit too large a task to undertake for the timeframe. I also think that those who could really write a novel have already given it a go, and are a few steps ahead of just writing it from scratch. National Short Story Writing Month (NaShoStoWriMo) not only sounds more appealing but would be better for introducing new writers to the craft. Copyright Matt Tuckey 2011. Just in case.

  2. I think it's good to get some ideas down. First drafts are always a bag of jelly beans.

  3. Yes, ideas, but not the whole beast. Speaking of beasts, started your rewrite yet?

  4. Yes but this is only way I can write novel because three kids and government support ran out and I will be bestseller because JoKe Rowling managed and she wrote on napkins but I have toilet paper.

    Its still november and I have writte 3827 words I will manage.