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.