Wednesday, 27 July 2011



Watching the TV Book Club the other day (yes I will pretty much watch anything with 'book' in the title) I saw an interview with 'the Grandmother of Chick Lit' Jackie Collins. Aside from that absurd title for the bestselling author, one of the things which bugged me came from Ms. Collins herself. She trotted out that old 'write what you know' cliche. This is one of my pet peaves when authors are talking about their work; it is one of those empty phrases that does little more than fill time while they can think of a better answer. Yes, I get that it doesn't mean 'only write that which you have direct experience of' and more 'draw on your life experience to enhance the quality of your writing'. I would, however, prefer to hear that stated plainly with perhaps some advice on how that particular author makes their life experience work for them in their writing. Do they draw on people they know to create characters? Do they extensivley 'people watch' to see varieties of expression and movement? Do they research extensivley, plan meticulosly, sit down and write from the top of their heads? Do their characters come to them fully formed, or do they build them up during the writing process?
Of course there's no way that all that information will fit into the time it takes to churn out that stock phrase, but that is because to do more than spit out cliches leads to thinking about and engaging with the writing process.
That's my two cents (or pence I suppose, but the invasion of Americaisms is another post for different day). What I really started this post for, before Jackie Collins distracted me, was that I'm thinking, perhaps, maybe of taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. GULP.
I won't be able to make a decision on this properly until after my End of Year Review. If that goes badly (please God don't let it go badly) then I'll have to spend the time trying to fix that. Hovever, I have put writing The Novel off until I get on better with the thesis and if that's going well and I get to take the extra class I want top take for the new semester, then I should be able to devote some time to getting the creative stuff up and running.
So, over to you. Have you devoted the penultimate month of the year to NaNoWriMo before? Was it worth it? Were you more or less motivated? And did you reach the magic 50,000?

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, I hate the "write what you know" advice! I did NaNo before, and with it I wrote my first novel. It's definitely worth it! You should try it, it's super fun. ;)