NaNoWriMo: Write your Novel first, Edit later

Give yourself permission to write badlyNaNoWriMo is criticised for what it does not encourage. But for me and lots of others it has been a revelation to write a novel from beginning right through to the end without trying to edit as I go.

A good writing tip

Many times I have seen this writing tip — “give yourself permission to write badly.” It makes sense. This is how we learned as children, there is no reason adult learning should be different. Start with whatever you can do, then keep working to improve it.

Write to the end

My 2010 NaNoWriMo novel is a mess and needs a complete re-write — so you might say it was a waste of time — but not me. It makes me very happy because I am a chronic editor.  Reaching 50,000 words is my big achievement and now I have something to work with. I don’t care if it takes ten edits to end up with something good.

Now I have characters I love, and one or two I hate. I have nearly a whole plot worked out.  I started with very vague ideas about what to write, but the act of writing got me going and it snowballed. For the re-write I will do some planning first, using Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method. I have his software and like it very much.

Even though publishers get lots of unsolicited NaNoWriMo manuscripts from naieve writers who think a first draft is ready to submit, that doesn’t stop NaNo being a great learning experience.  It is not just about being published. For many people it’s not about that at all. You test yourself out, it’s a race you want to run just to see if you can do it. There are no gold medals, the only rewards are to feel good and celebrate with new friends afterwards.

Success leads to success

NaNoWriMo showed me as much about myself as it did about writing. Someone once told me I take the path of least resistance — he was right, that is my fatal flaw. When the going gets tough I usually stress out and back off. But NaNo showed me I don’t have to do that, and every small success leads to more.

Any good novel takes a lot more effort than writing non-stop for a month, I don’t think many people would argue with that. But you can use NaNoWriMo to your advantage if you are willing to take the risk of writing badly before you write well.

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Have you ever entered the NaNoWriMo frenzy?
Leave a comment and tell us about it

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About Jude

I am a poet and mosaics artist. Fell in love with Tasmania within days on a brief holiday, then moved permanently in October 2013.
This entry was posted in Editing & proofreading, National Novel Writing Month, Novel writing, Uncategorized, Writing habits, Writing resources and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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