National Novel Writing Month - Are There Benefits To High-Speed Novel Writing?
By Lisa A. Sorensen
Some writers say that National Novel Writing Month is sheer craziness and that anybody who thinks they can write a novel in 30 days is just kidding themselves. Sure, perhaps it's possible to get the words down, they'll tell you, but what would the point be? It can't be any good. Real novelists take their time to get it right, and if you're a real writer, if you truly care about your prospective novel, then you'll work on the first draft for months or years, pouring every ounce of your soul into it.
These are things I've heart time and time again when the subject of National Novel Writing Month has come up in conversation with other writers. So is there truth in it? Maybe there is, and maybe it's only a matter of opinion and personal preference.
Something I have noted is that in my personal experience, the bulk of folks who've told me such things are writers who have yet to start and/or finish a first novel.
Personally, I'm a huge advocate of the high-speed approach to novel writing. What I particularly like about the concept of high-speed novel writing is that it advocates a sort of literary liberation, a quantity-over-quality approach which is geared to getting words onto the page despite the plague of a nagging internal critic. Get the words down on paper. Tell the story you want to tell in your book. At that point, and not a moment before, you may worry about how good or bad it is, and whether or not it merits investing the time to edit, polish, and submit.
Another perk of this method is that it doesn't give you a chance to over-think. Sometimes, writing this way, you won't know what happens next until you, yourself, see it on the screen. Often, this can add to the unpredictability of your novel, keeping it fresh and full of life, something that many carefully outlined and plotted novels are missing.
The important thing to remember is that writing fast does not preclude one pouring one's heart and soul into their work. If anything, often writing fast allows you to bypass your inhibitions and put more of yourself into what you write.
The most vital benefit of the high-speed novel writing approach, however, is that it gets the job done. Many would-be novelists agonize over their novels for months and years. They struggle with every paragraph, every sentence, every word. They write and rewrite and second guess, and often, at some point, they simply lose interest. Writing a novel in a 30-day timeframe doesn't give a writer enough time to lose interest in the work, nor to second guess themselves, and at the end of the 30 days, they have a completed first draft to work with.
So are there benefits to high-speed novel writing, or is it truly a waste of time? This is a question that each writer must answer for themselves, but I'd strongly recommend that every would-be novelist try it at least once. I've venture a guess that they won't be sorry they did.