Writers and the NaNo Paradigm

It’s that time of year again, folks. Nano has landed, and ever since, I’ve been pressed up to my laptop screen at every free second. But this year is slightly different for me. I’m using my NaNo time to complete something that I’ve promised to someone. The only problem is: it has to be good.

This is a problem because NaNo isn’t designed for quality, it’s designed for speed. And it’s got me thinking about the old Project Management Triangle. You know the one, you can have it fast and cheap, or good and fast, or good and cheap—but you can’t have all three. I’m beginning to think NaNo is the same.

So, if you’re like me and want to write fast AND good, can you do it?


1. What does “fast” mean?

If you want to write 100,000 words in a month, you’re probably never going to achieve that in good quality writing. But, if you’re dedicated to spending three hours a day, two of them writing and one editing the previous day’s offering, then ending up with 50,000 decent words is doable.


2. How quick is quick?

Let’s be honest, in our daily lives most of us probably struggle to write over one thousand words a day. So getting up to 1,500 is an achievement. Sometimes, even on a tight deadline, it’s important to be realistic, and to remember that slow and steady wins the race.


3. Put time into planning.

The only real way to keep an eye on your quality is to know where you’re going and how you want to get there. This does take a little joy out of the NaNo fun, which is just seeing what you end up with. However, it also means that you’ll be aware of every word you write, even at speed.


Be aware, plan when you can, edit when possible, and maybe you’ll crack it: fast and good. Happy NaNoWriMo!


Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.

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