Every year in November, National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) comes up, and writers nationwide encourage each other to write, just write, get in 50,000 words, who cares how good or bad it is, just write! The idea is to encourage authors to commit to the time to write, to just create, even if the creation itself isn’t really up to snuff.
And every year, whatever I’m doing, whatever projects I have going on, I always make sure I sing to myself: “I (I) I (I) I (I)… won’t do NaNoWriMo! (Ooh-oh!).”*
Why? Because I consider it an artificial challenge, which I choose not to entertain.
Remember The Princess Bride, and the scene when Inigo and Fezzik bring a mostly-dead Westley to Miracle Max? Inigo tries to rush Miracle Max’s efforts to revive Westley, to which Max replies:
“Don’t rush me, sonny. You rush a Miracle Man, you get rotten miracles.”
If you watch American television, you’ve probably seen programs where teams of experts in something (bakers, carpenters, grillers, whatever) are challenged to create something… then given a ridiculously short amount of time, forcing them to rush, cut corners, inevitably screw something up, and get judged on whatever they were able to jury-rig before the alarm goes off. Those shows are designed to create additional (and unnecessary) drama for the audience, but it also means that these master creators never turn in their best work because of the time crunch. And every time I see one of those shows, I can’t help but to think about what real artistry might have been accomplished if they’d had time to do the job they’d wanted to do and do it right.
This is why I’ve passed on every “contest” that comes along, asking me to create a writing product on a tight deadline, whatever the intent. I don’t consider it a fair challenge to push me to rush through the one thing I know how to do well. I know I can write, and when I’m ready to write, I don’t have a problem putting in the time to write. If I’m going to create, I’m going to create the best product I can create, and it’ll take however long it takes. I believe in quality, not quantity.
I won’t be rushed. You rush a storyteller, you get rotten stories.
*Sung to the tune of “Sun City.” Look it up.