I’m friends with a lot of writers. Since we’re writers we peek out of our introverted holes every now and again and fauxcialise on Facebook. This month being November a lot of that fauxcialisation revolves around our NaNo daily word counts.
“I did 1440 today. Still have to make up 300 from Saturday.”
“Really need to buckle down and attack this NaNo project. I’m already four days behind.”
I know that the idea is to teach discipline; when I succeeded at it two years ago it did wonders for my sticktoitiveness as a fiction writer. But I can’t shake the feeling that for every good lesson it imparts about showing up in front of the page are three bad lessons about grinding out artless chaff.
The mantra for NaNoWriMo is that one is to just write anything, to get the word count down before the month is out. Since this is the only way to evaluate an event of this magnitude*, I completely understand.
But how many people get to November 30th and still have joy in their work and love of their story? How many more are like I was two years ago, shoving the story in the back of the hard drive and swearing that it’ll be a cold day in July before they touch it again?
The more I follow Patrick Todoroff the more I feel obliged to just write no matter what else is going on. But when I pick up books like Patrick Rothfuss’ Name Of The Wind and Peter Brett’s The Warded Man I realise that writing can’t just be a mechanical response to an arbitrary deadline. There has to be soul behind it. When I look at my friends’ Facebook updates it seems like a lot of us are losing heart, if not soul as well.