Notts Festival of Words


I was, sadly, only able to attend the Saturday programme for Notts Words, but I’m very glad I did so.

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[Inter]National Novel Writing Month is almost upon us. Or, as I like to call it: ‘November’.

I first became aware of NaNo back in the mid-noughties when I was doing my undergraduate degree. At the time it seemed like a great challenge, but not one I had time to fit around my studies. By the time I graduated, I realised what NaNo really wanted from me.

NaNo wanted words.

Not content, story, characters, themes, subplot, influence or even to be interesting. Just 80,000 words*. That’s around 2600 words a day.

Graham Joyce (see below) told me that 1000 words a day would be decent going for someone consciously crafting. So NaNo wants two and a half times that much. Something has to slide.

For my writing, that would be craft.

I don’t doubt that if emergency called, I could churn out the word limit. But it wouldn’t be good. It wouldn’t even be work I’d take to a writers’ workshop. Two literary agents I have been lucky enough to speak to have both mentioned the influx of poorer-quality manuscripts in the wake of November. Having finished my MA now, craft is something, personally, I am not willing to compromise on. For some people, they are lucky enough to be able to hone their writing as they go. I’ll be clapping from the sidelines as you scribble away.

So, if you are doing NaNo, have a wonderful time. Writing, is, of course, an artistic outlet and your work belongs only to you at the end of the day. If you’re happy with it, I truly, honestly applaud you.

Have a great November. May you pen the next best seller.

*Of course, your NaNovel can be whatever length you choose.