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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quantity, Not Quality?

I wonder how many of you knew that this month, November, is National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo). The aim is for writers to crank out about 1,500 words a day in order to complete a novel by the end of the month. In other words, the emphasis is on quantity, not quality. Most writing manuals will tell us that the essence of writing is revision. But here we have, as the NaNoWriMo website explains, "a kamikaze approach {that} forces you to lower your expectations, take risks and write on the fly." The site even has a Procrastination Station that gives advice like "Plot while driving," which prompted the New York Times Book Review to question "Is that legal?" But the big surprise is that this crazy writing competition has actually given birtto at least one huge best-seller, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Go figure!


  1. I think that's actually a great way to get a first draft finished. So often writers (myself included) freeze up trying to get each sentence right the first time around. This approach forces you out of your perfectionism and into completing something that then can be revised.

  2. I have been thinking about this all month. I have a writer friend who tells the story that when she goes to cocktail parties and is asked what she does for a living surgeons or lawyers invariably say "Oh I am going to be a writer when I retire," to which she replies "Oh, I am going to be a surgeon when I retire!" Is everything art? The entire Indie art movement aided by itunes, youtube, ebooks says yes. So access and contests drive the independent movement and I guess that's a good thing.

  3. I know this is a bit late in coming, but Laura Miller wrote an excellent article, asking people not to write that novel, the problem being (in her eyes) that people tend just to write the horrible 1st draft, but never bother to rewrite anything. Here is a link.