National Novel Writing Month

The month of November is known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), it is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in writing novels to take the plunge and see if they can write fifty thousand (50,000) words (the length of a stardard novel) in 30 days.

Now any writer will tell you that the hardest part of writing, it writing. As a blog writer and someone who trying to right their first novel I can vouch for this. So let’s just be clear on a few things when writing a novel in a month. This is not about you writing a polished novel ready for sale to the world in 30 days. This is about encouraging as many people to write as possible, old and young. However if you are someone who would like a manuscript to be published, and you have been saying for too long ‘I’m going to write a book’ then this is the perfect opportunity to get your first draft of that story down on paper. The thirty day challenge should give you the motivation to get it done as you can record your word count on the NaNoWriMo website (see below) and measure your own success against others.

NaNoWriMo is a really great way helps with work ethics as you have a word target each day of about 1,667 and then the deadline to finish by the end of the month and with prizes up for grabs there’s an incentive (as if you don’t need any more of one along side wanting to be published). Can you hit your target by the end of the month and still have a manuscript that makes some sort of sense?

Whether a story is classed as a novel is determined by the word count. For works under 7500 words this is a short story, between 7500 and 17499 is a Novelette, works that are between 17500 and 39999 are classified as Novella’s and a Novel is 40000 upwards. So the target for NaNoWriMo pushes writers to achieve above the minimum word count for a novel, there are writers who set their word count to over 100,000; but the choice is your own.

National Novel Writing Month is not only a great way to bring out the writer in you, but it is also a great opportunity to spent time writing with other people. The writer’s career can be very isolated at times when you are sat at the computer all day wrapped in the world of characters and the wolrd you have created.

Writing a story of any length needs some level of planning and those who participate in NaNoWriMo usually take the month of October to prepare. This way writing becomes a lot easier and getting the 50000 words is like a breeze (they wish).

But preparing for this month long challenge involves things like getting a title, an outline of the plot, character profiles, a chapter and scene break down and anything else which could be classed as essential to the writing. If you are writing fantasy then maybe a map of the world you plan to create, and any rules or laws that that readers would need to know about.

There are many variations of the event with camp NaNoWriMo earlier in the year, which is a chance to camp with other writers as you complete the writing marathon. These all happen in April and in June.

So if you are planning to take part this year’s NaNoWriMo then let us know, we would love to know what you are writing and how you get on.

Did They Get It Or Not???

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that I usually come on here, pick a topic, complain bitterly give an idea to a solution. But today I want to praise our industry especially organisations like the National Theatre and the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company).

It doesn’t matter what business or industry you work, from retail to the arts, if you go for an interview or an audition you then have to wait 2 or 3 weeks to get an outcome and if you’re not successful you just have to assume as the chances of receiving a ‘physical’ rejection in the form of letter or email is rare, not to mention rude, but most can be discouraging and stressful.

It also goes for writers for magazines, papers, publishers and theatres, a lot of work has been put into the effort and then not only do you not hear any feedback, or even a rejection, sometimes you don’t even get an acknowledgment that it has been received.

The most common reason employers give for this behavior is that ‘the response was over whelming, it’s too costly and timely to write to everyone, both successful and unsuccessful’. About 25 to 30 years ago this would have been true, when emails were just coming into wider use and even then the only costings would have been someone adding names and addresses to the top of a letter as most, if not all businesses use some form of templates for letters and with the new data protection laws they will have a specific databases for interviewee personal data.

For any business to succeed a need for individuals to believe in them and most businesses usually start with good intentions but somehow turn arrogant as success materialises and a search of cutting costs in to seek profit. Can you imagine how well businesses would do if every person who failed to get a job and didn’t receive a formal rejection letter was legally allowed to give the company a bad name, there would be some quick changes to policies.

The #yesorno campaign is about encouraging employers of all industries to let candidates know either way after an interview or audition. The whole interview or audition itself is a complete terrifying experience as individuals put so much of themselves into their work in front of the panel. Not to mention the expense of getting there, the babysitter, the time sat in traffic, that really early start after busy night at work the night before. Then the waiting experience afterward is even worse, it’s a whole mix of feelings and can lead to anxiety and if experienced enough can lead to depression and more mental health problems.

Just having the common courtesy to drop someone a note, no matter how short or simple, it doesn’t have to give specific feedback it just needs to confirm they were not successful. The gesture can make all the difference to someone’s life. It can be uplifting, empowering, but most importantly it helps them to put closure to the experience making it easier to move on the next. But above all this the organisation’s reputation and the reasons why individuals apply to work with them remains in tacked in the interviewees mind.

New Works vs Established Works

There continues to be this controversy around producers putting on well-known productions instead of using new works and new writers, the excuse always seems to be that ‘the risks are too high with new works’.

The Mousetrap, Les Miserable and even The Lion King all started as new works before becoming iconic shows in London’s West End and around the world. Other shows regularly produced are the likes of the Sound of Music, Grease and Mary Poppins which are all best known for their big screen versions more than the stage productions. But when these shows are revived or adapted is it because there’s really a call for them or is it an attempt at franchising because producers really can’t make anything else work?

Like with many other jobs people can be doing it for so long that they begin to believe the way they do things is the only way things will work. This however only reaches out to the same kind of audience is reached and even when it comes to the revivals they don’t necessarily bring in a new kind of people, just the same in a new generation.

Show business has always been a complete gamble it involves more risk taking than any other industry because every time a new show is produced, a new work or revival, it always starts with a blank canvas. By contrast when you introduce a new product to stock in a shop the customers can still buy the old stock, when an electrician fixes the wiring he must reach a standard to issue a certificate.

But theatre, like authors it’s about the reputation, publishing and reviews of the event that makes the audience come in. It’s about how creative, original and inspiring an idea can be to grab the punters imagination. If a concept can be sold to just half a dozen people then it will be carried and interpreted so others will buy the idea to fill the house. It’s almost like starting a new business every time.

If we are not willing to tap into the imagination of those people who don’t cross the threshold into the living room of a theatre with what is already out there on offer, maybe it could be the new and fresh idea that will fill that extra seat. Why should anyone give anyone funding to produce the same titles over again, over time even the ordinary person could probably work out how much it cost to put on the show for the several hundredth time. Why should we invest time in schools when we already know how shows are supposed to be performed? Is it possible that an attitude of ‘anyone can do that’ is stronger than ever today? The world is always looking for something new, for something more exciting and it is this that makes the arts industry hard, it is why drama schools work the students hard.

I am not saying we should not revive the golden oldies, but we need to do it in proportion where by new works get a good look in, where the public can make the decision if a writer is worth the ticket money or not and it so good we have fringe festivals where performances can be tried out, but the fringe isn’t the only place this should happen.

Is it possible that by not taking as many risks of producing more new works that the arts is living a self-prophecy of self-destruction by failing to inspire more people?