Writing Insanity in November

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The NaNoWriMo site got its annual reboot, so the new banners and icons are out, and they look awesome! This is going to be my eighth year participating in NaNo, and something about the turning of the weather gets my brain inspired and brings me back to the memory of my first horribly written 50,000-word “novel.” I will never forget how incredible it was to write something at that pace. To keep on keepin’ on even though I suspected that it was utter crap. To hold onto my zeal for the epic story idea that came to me six days before November 1. And so on.

But as great as NaNoWriMo is for beginners and those who need that spark of inspiration and the rush of a deadline to finish something, it can get writers in the habit of putting words to paper (or screen) very quickly, even when there is no deadline. It can lull writers into the false sense of satisfaction and completion that hits on November 30. Yeah, you’re done… but you’re only done with the first draft. So feel free to celebrate for now, but if you want your story to have a future, you have a lot of work ahead of you.

Successful writers always say that writing is really rewriting. That means taking it slow and putting in the hours that it takes to get the plot just right, to get to know the characters, and even to get to know yourself as a writer. With revisions (and especially with editing and fine-tuning), you really can’t expect to finish anything in 30 days. You can’t even expect to finish in a year if you’re like most people. So the moral of this post is… NaNoWriMo will get you through only about 5% of the writing process. So get that first draft done. Then take your time with everything else that follows. Enjoy the story. Don’t rush it.

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