Hobby Noveling

In a few days, I will be starting Camp NaNoWriMo. That’s right, all the joy and madness of November’s National Novel Writing Month, now deliciously available in August.

For those of you who don’t know what normal NaNoWriMo is, it is anything but normal. The challenge: 50,000 words. One month. Go. More specifically, the challenge is to write 50,000 words of the first draft of a novel. The rushed writing model (1,667 words per day) is designed to shut down people’s Inner Editors, allowing and forcing them to simply get the thing done.

This program has proven instrumental in pushing me off the cliff of “I want to write a novel or two on the side” and into the wild rushing ether of “I want to write novels for a living!”.

But don’t lay the blame on too thick! Such was never their plan. In fact, NaNoWriMo began with the intention of being nothing more than a wild ride and a kick in the pants to the sorts that say they’re going to write a book “someday”.

Their intention, in short, lay no further than hobby noveling.

Hobby noveling: writing a novel, just because you want to. No plans for publication. Writing for your own eyes, perhaps for the eyes of a small circle of friends; perhaps even for no eyes ever again, once the first draft is laid down in type.

Preposterous? Ridiculous? Insane for someone to put so much effort into a private project? Indeed! As preposterous as someone painting for pleasure and never planning to get a gallery. As ridiculous as remodeling that master bathroom that hardly anyone but you and your spouse ever sees. As insane, I say, as personal satisfaction ever is.

So yes, I think writing “just for kicks” should be respected. Writing seems to be the only sphere where people are frowned upon for not desiring to share their work. Hobby novelers, as a rule, are pressured to publish, while someone can write songs and poetry, whittle wooden figurines, and sketch in a private notebook without being pushed to publicize (unless they’re really great).

I really think the idea that the only reason to write is to publish needs to change, and I thank NaNoWriMo for aiding and abetting that change.

And if, by some fluke, a hobby novelist tumbles down the slippery slope towards career writing… I feel their pain. Maybe we can form a support group.

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4 comments

  1. I got my start in hobby noveling; went a good 4 or 5 years unsure of whether I’d actually ever try to publish, and have filled several journals with stories I am *dead* sure I don’t ever want to see in print. EV. ER.
    In truth, this may be among the best ways to begin. Just writing for you. Just writing because it’s fun. Just enjoying yourself, with none of the pressure that comes with trying to make it a career. Allowing time to set down deep roots of loving writing before the gales of the publishing world attempt to knock your tree down. It’s also a good way to crank out those 10 million words of sewage before you can start wordsmithing like a boss. 🙂
    Ohmygracious, less than a week ’til Camp NaNo… Yeah, sure, I’m totally prepared. *laugh that suggests otherwise*

    1. You’re entirely right; pressure-less writing is a great way to begin. Well, pressure-less as in no pressure to publish; pressure to write is a great way to go, as evidenced by NaNoWriMo and its camps.

  2. I think a person should, first and foremost, write for the fun of it. All thoughts of publishing should come later. I wouldn’t want to be a writer who writes just for the sake of getting money out of it.

    1. That’s very true; money writers are kind of disappointing to me. :/ On the other hand, there are those who write to be published because they want to share a story with the world, because they want their words to make other people happy, and I totally understand that. 🙂

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