NaNoWriMo: Day 7

Admit that unless you’re one of a very few, you’re behind on your NaNoWriMo project. It’s okay. It happens. And writing isn’t about word count, even if the challenge this month seems to focus on that. Word counts are just to help us get to the real goal: a complete first draft. We’re not going to admit in the month of November that it’s okay to finish with 32,739 words, because then we’re not challenging ourselves enough. For many writers, if we stop pressuring ourselves, we stop writing. And the trick is, every day, get some writing done.

This means we can let up the pressure in other ways or areas: don’t fret that the first draft of each sentence isn’t good enough, because sure, it’s probably not good enough. No need to get stressed about writing the wrong scene, or feeling like a character isn’t working in the story. I’ve yanked characters out of novels and replaced them, merged them, or plum forgotten about them. It can be rude to do the persona non grata act in real life, but when one is creating people from nothing, all’s fair.

It can be a challenge to let go of our preconceived notions about writing and how words make it onto a page. Not everyone is used to writing all of the drivel—I mean, prose—and letting it go as soon as it’s out there. I give myself a wee bit of latitude: if I haven’t finished the sentence and my brain rewrites it as I’m typing, I can hit the backspace and re-engineer the sentence. But that’s it. NaNoWriMo is the act of writing and immediately letting go. That may be threatening for some writers or some kinds of writing, but just think of it as an exercise, and it may get a little easier. Even if you’re not nuts about the scene you just completed, or the sidekick, or the time period, you will handle that later. Take this time to keep punching through and while measuring word counts is not the goal, it’s still a marker of progress.

If you’re ahead of the 1,667-words-a-day pace, congratulate yourself. If you’re behind, don’t dwell on it. Focus on getting lost in your story and seeing it through. And by the end of the day, you’ll have something more than you had last Sunday. And that’s terrific, no matter what comes of the time you spent this week.

Photo credit: Mutasim Billah on Flickr
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9 Comments on “NaNoWriMo: Day 7”

  1. November 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    I fell behind by day four, but not out of the game. I’d rather write well (or at least coherently) than slap down anything to make a quota. I did that, but I was far from happy with my… calling it a story would be generous. I get the letting go of your inner editor, but by trade I am a slow, deliberate writer. NaNo is almost too far from my comfort zone, so I’m just using the time to write. Period. Not count words.

    • evmaroon
      November 7, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

      And that’s fine, too. People write in all sorts of ways. Somehow I’ve evolved from a skeleton writer who spends rewrite sessions filling out the draft into an overwriter who cuts things down. I’ll agree that NaNoWriMo works pretty well for how I write these days. But I like having a focused push, and I think it’s a good extended exercise for writers, no matter their process.

  2. November 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    “NaNoWriMo is the act of writing and immediately letting go.” Yeah. Yeah. Love it. What would be the equivalent in life: the act of living and immediately letting go. Whatever that is, I want to do that.

    • evmaroon
      November 7, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

      Have you ever read The Sedona Method? It’s very touchy-feely woo woo new age-inspired, but it’s the personal growth version of that sentiment. I’ve listened to most of the CDs, and found them really helpful for living in the moment and such.

      • November 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

        I hadn’t; thank you. I’ll check it out.

  3. November 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    Thank you for this balanced perspective on NaNoWriMo. One of the best aspects of NaNoWriMo is that as writers we are thrown into the “must produce” trenches together and this creates a feeling of comradery. The machine gun fire we face at the “up and over” is the daily word count. I guess you can tell from the WWI imagery that at times NaNoWriMo can be stressful 🙂

    • evmaroon
      November 7, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

      Ah yes, in the trenches, duking it out and trying not to succumb to influenza. Great imagery for November, Jason!

  4. hsofia
    November 7, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    I think I’m the exact type of writer NaNoWriMo is trying to attract. I have a lot of ideas and jot down bits of things all the time, but I rarely stay focused on one story idea and work on it every day. Hitting that 1667 word count is key for me because the whole reason I’m doing NaNo is to get into the practice of writing every day about one thing and completing that draft. My pathological critic has doomed most of my ideas about 2 pages in. I’m one of those people who would agonize over 4 page papers in college as I over-researched, plumbed the philosophical depths of my heart, and so on before I produced a draft – usually the night before it was due (or the night after it was due). Horrible. I’m so ready to get past that. I can’t believe I made it through the first week.

    • evmaroon
      November 7, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

      I’m excited for you! The first week is a big deal, and yes, it is all about making habits that stick after the month is over. I’m really excited you’re with us on NaNo this year.

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