I Love NaNoWriMo, but. . .


Writing / Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

I have been a part of National Novel Writing Month for six years now, and it is something I always look forward to in November. But, for me, it isn’t always the best way to write.

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, or NaNo as it is also called, is an online writing challenge that takes place every November. Winning NaNo is easy. You just write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Simple, right? Yeah. Not so much. What makes the challenge even harder is it is suggested that you write without any editing. ZERO! That really doesn’t work for me.

I have been fortunate to have won NaNo five times over the past seven years, but it hasn’t been easy. I always have a very difficult time writing my 50,000 word novel without editing anything. As someone who is very fussy about their writing, absolutely zero editing just about makes me want to pull my hair out.

Why is zero editing so hard for me?

The way I write is always in chronological order. I write a beginning, then the middle, and the end. I wish I could write all over the place: one day write my final chapter, the next day something in the middle, maybe the second chapter the next day. . . Nope! That totally doesn’t work for me.

So, zero editing is just not in the cards for me, because so many things change as I am writing: characters appear or disappear, scenes are cut, and settings change.

When I began writing A Deadly Melody for NaNo in 2015, I started out with a ridiculous amount of characters, something like 25. I knew that was way too many, but I couldn’t stop and think about which characters would stay and which would go. I jumped into writing plots for two of those characters, with one of the plots taking up about 1/4 of the book.

Fast forward to this past November. After nearly three years, I started rereading what I had written in preparation for NaNo 2018. I immediately knew that those two characters had to be cut. It was so obvious that they were insignificant and took away from the main story.

Unfortunately, not editing as I was writing during NaNo 2015 resulted in deleting more than half of my novel. I really didn’t delete anything, I just copied and pasted it into an “old” document and then deleted it from my working file. I don’t delete anything! Just in case I might want to use it again someday.

This might not be an issue for you.

Everyone writes differently. Just look at all of the writing books out there. Some books tell you to write an outline, others tell you to write by the seat of your pants. Some tell you to have your characters completely nailed down before writing, while others tell you to let the characters speak to you.

So if writing 50,000 words without editing works for you. Great! NaNoWriMo is a wonderful writing challenge, and you should definitely give it a whirl. I just wish I weren’t so crazy about editing as I write, so I could enjoy it more. But, I guess that is just part of my own writing style.