Hurrah! It’s time for NaNoWriMo again! National Novel Writing Month takes place in November. It works on the theory that everyone has a novel in them, even if it’s not a very good one, and wouldn’t it be great to say to people at parties ‘oh yes, I had something like that in my novel…’?

Some members of my forum took part in it last year, and they’re going to give it another shot this year:

Matazoner’s doing NaNoWriMo

Essentially you agree to have a shot at writing about 2,000 words a day for the whole month, ending up with a novelette of 50k words. It doesn’t have to be any good, or even make sense, it’s all about the word count!

I won’t be taking part this year (there is the slight pressing matter of my thesis to be done instead, where quality is regarded as slightly more important than quantity) but I might give it a crack in 2006 if I haven’t already started writing books by then.

More info here:

And NaNoWriMo in ten easy steps here.

Considering that it’s now international, shouldn’t it be InNoWriMo?

7 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo”

  1. Of course, you understand that extraneous apostrophes are punishable by flogging 😉

    In answer to your last comment on your entry about McDonald’s – since I’m not sure you’re still reading those comments – you know I’m hardly a free-market capitalist. The username I go by on your forums should tell you that. But I am deeply protective of free speech, and deeply mistrustful of scare tactics – by which I mean terms like “mind control”. That’s an easy term to throw around, and I’ve never liked it. And you weren’t just saying something “vaguely critical of corporate business ethics”; you were accusing them of mind control, which in the event of its existence is an extremely serious accusation. This is to say nothing of the fact that NLP, to which you referred in your blog entry, is, I understand, considered by authorities in the field to be nothing more than pseudoscience.

    You’re right, I have seen and heard the McDonald’s slogan many hundreds of times. Yet, I have absolutely no desire to eat a McDonald’s hamburger. Do I have some mysterious immunity to their mind-control tactics? No; it’s just that the last time I ate one, it was nasty and flavourless. I made an informed decision based on experience – an experience which cost me very little, due to their low prices. Perhaps their many customers are doing the same?

    I suppose that’s another reason I object to the “mind control” theory of advertising – it demeans free choice. It assumes that the only reason anybody buys food from McDonald’s is because they’ve been brainwashed into it; the poor benighted masses didn’t realise what was going on. Is it not at all possible that they simply like the food?

  2. Shaner: yes, clearly I am divine. C’est la vie.

    SeanH: As much as it’s big headed to say such things, you’re smarter than the average homo sapien, so you’re not going to be as open to persuasion (of some types) as other people. That, in some ways, could be classified as being smart. You hear a message mostly question it. You’re the kind of consumer that I wish the world was made of because you choose whether you like something before you engage with it.

    Your final question is a contradiction of your earlier statement (that their food is nasty), do people realise what is going on? Judging by the queues in McDonald’s at lunchtime I think it’s fair to say that generally people don’t. You yourself agree that their food is basically trash, yet people continue to go back to it, despite there being plenty of tasty, filling, cheaper, quicker alternatives only seconds’ walk away. The food is nasty, so how can people like such bland crap? They are told that it’s fun, it’s fast, and now they’re told it’s okay for them. If people didn’t listen to advertising then, by your standards, McDonald’s would be out of business. They are still in business, so clearly you are not the average customer. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you are average.

    About NLP: it’s based on solid psychological principles and has a huge amount of success. Saying that it is pseudoscience is a very Victorian attitude, based on the idea of psychology as being fluffy. We might not understand why the mind works in the ways that it does, but we’re getting pretty good at making it work how we want it to. NLP, despite its cheesy American proponents and the really rubbish acronym, is an effective tool in helping people work out ways to imrove themselves.

    To me, free will is a nice idea but very much a cultural construct. I am the product of my environment. My actions may be unpredictable in a precise manner, but essentially they will mostly be in a specified radius of action. By this I mean that given the option between hitting a person and killing a person I will most likely go for the former if I have the choice. Free will is about a range of choices but culture gives us the choices that we decide between, and culture can bias to one choice over others.

    I would love for free will to be a concept that I believe is absolutely true, but people are just too predictable for it to be true on a daily basis. Given extreme circumstances free will is probably applicable: you have a gun and can choose to kill or maim in self-defence, who knows what you’ll do? But take out those extremities and the actions on an individual I believe are very predictable.

    To be frank, I’d rather you were right. I’d rather that I am just being cynical, that choices made by individuals are completely external to cultural influence, and mantras recited daily to individuals have no effect, but I just don’t belive it. I’ve studied hypnotherapy as a hobby and used language to change people’s ideas about things they feel passionately about. Language is insidious because it works with the voice in your head. It’s the most powerful method of mind control that I know of. Yes, I know that you don’t like that term, but if you look at it in its literal sense (and not the paranoid the-government-is-trying-to-make-you-drone sense) then I think it is an accurate term. Advertising attempts to make you think in a certain way, or at the very least to make you consider issues that previously you would have dismissed. That we are even bothering to discuss the McDonald’s campaign is a testament to its strength.

    Slightly off-topic: I review and approve every comment individually, so if you put a message on any post then I will see it before it goes online.

  3. That last paragraph must mean that SeanH has said some pretty nasty things that you chose not to put up, eh?

  4. You’re taking my statements to an unrealistic extreme. I’m not saying that every individual decision taken is entirely indifferent to the cultural background and upbringing of the decider.

    I think the problem is that you’ve taken “McDonald’s food is nasty” to be an absolute, objective, unquestionable statement. You just can’t do that. I knew a man once who drank butter. Now, the thought of doing that makes me want to retch; clearly, somebody has brainwashed him into doing this! No – he just has his own tastes. I hate Brussels sprouts. And yet – and yet – people buy them continually! Surely they’ve been robbed of their free will by the media!

    Or they like sprouts. And that’s it. You’re seeing a vast group of people with tastes different from yourself, and deciding that the only reason for their actions is that they weren’t intelligent enough to avoid the brainwashing. There are two reasons that hundreds of thousands of people could eat a certain food – they want to, or they’re brainwashed. Occam’s Razor would seem to favour the former.

  5. Shaner: not at all, it’s just that he thought I might not see a post on this subject in the previous thread where it originally started because that has moved down the list. I was just making it clear that I read everything before it goes online. So far I’ve approved every comment made on threads, but there is the potential for spam or adult content in comments so I make sure that I read everything first.

    SeanH: It’s your turn to take things to extremes. It’s not a case of either people like the food or they have been influenced by advertising, I think that a middle ground is the most likley, that they find the food pretty average but it has been advertised as being desirable for so long that they think that it’s better than it is.

    I’m not dismissing the aspect of convenience as a motivation for people buying McDonald’s fud, I’m just saying that I believe that repitious advertising can have a strong effect on people’s opinions. Advertising is often a pretty nasty world of manipulation. Sometimes it is in the best interests of the viewers but often the job of the advertiser is to make things appear better than they really are and the techniques they use are not as transparent as they first appear.

  6. You know, I read about NaNoWriMo last year when I accidentally clicked on a livejournal link and got sent to a blog that was being used to keep track of a person’s progress. I thought it was a very interesting and unique approach to promoting writing, and still do. Hell, I would even enter in it if it wasn’t for my fear of being institutionalized after having people read my writing. Unfortunate, though, that you’re not entering. Always next year, I s’pose. Cheers.

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