Thoughts From NaNo | Quality, Quantity, and Discipline


Most of my writing thus far for NaNoWriMo feels a little lot like this. In many ways, the concept of quantity over quality which NaNoWriMo advocates is perfectly suited to my writing style which, you might have noticed, could be described as using far too many commas, lists of three, not-strictly-necessary descriptive asides, and words such as “quite” and “rather” when the sentence would function much the same without them. I tend to run-on quite a bit too. Which makes a daily goal of 1667 words sound not at all horrific to me. Still, despite the idea of disciplining yourself to meet a word count every day and so not worrying unduly over ever single word choice, some quality in writing would perhaps be advisable. I need to take more care over what I write.

However, as all great writers ever claim – the key to getting better at writing is (shock horror) to write. Writing has always been something on my periphery – something that I claim to love, and do indeed love when I get into the rhythm of it, but something which I rarely practice on a regular basis. In fact,  aside from essay writing, I don’t think I’ve ever written a solid amount of words two days in a row. Even forum rp (which I love) hasn’t seen me as disciplined as that because, due to time zone differences, I very rarely end up responding to an rp partner every day. So for all some kind of writing is involved in my day-to-day life (right now, for example, that’s a lot of job application writing) it’s never the focus of any given day in my life and I’ve certainly never sustained concentration on a single form of writing for this long, let alone what will hopefully be 30 days over the course of NaNoWriMo.

I’m finding I enjoy it though. I enjoy meeting the daily target – and that feeling is even better when I surpass it, even if it’s just by 20 words or so. What can I say, I’m a sucker for visualisations of surpassing someone’s minimum expectations, and that little daily stat graph is like a nice pat of the back after every evening word count update.

Speaking of which, it’s just gone midday on Day 3 and I haven’t written a single word today. I need to reach 5000 in the next 12 hours to meet target but since that’s 1245 words left to write, I don’t think that’s too bad. Getting ahead would be preferable, however, since tomorrow we look after a certain toddler who (unsurprisingly) doesn’t seem to care much for daily writing goals… or quiet of any kind. So we’ll see how that goes. I’m having fun just putting one word in front of the other and seeing where I end up. Sure, I’m likely to end up with shaky characterisation, mostly terrible dialogue and some convoluted plotting (confession: my plotting is non-existent at this point), but the point to this entire exercise (at least for me) is to prove to myself that I’m capable of sticking at something for 30 days without giving up because I decide my idea is terrible anyway so I might as well ditch everything and go back to doing nothing every day.

As far as the point of NaNoWriMo goes, I feel like that one will benefit more than just my writing in the longer term.

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