Second thoughts on NaNoWriMo

So! At it eleven days now, I’ve got more than 16K words written. This has been an interesting experiment, and I can’t deny it’s great to be as far into the book as I now am.


This is not the way I write. I can only go so far forward before I have to go back and make things better. I get unhappy, otherwise. I start dragging my feet. The book is on to the next thing, but my brain is all I’m not done back there.

I see the point of turning off the “internal editor” if it’s a cruel obstructionist who tells you everything you do is no good, but I don’t really have one of those.

For me, it’s more the case that I just don’t work in a straight line. I layer. When I write a scene, the previous scene suddenly looks different to me, so I have to go back and put another layer of meaning or characterization over it, which in turn enables me to sketch out a subsequent scene, which teaches me something I didn’t understand about the beginning, which reminds me of something I meant to do over here…

And round and round, building everything up slowly. It’s like those Renaissance paintings where they layered on glazes of almost transparent colour, building up subtle gradations. It takes a lot of patience, but it’s my process.

I am going to take a few days off — completely off — and let my poor brain bounce After that, my “NaNo” may in fact consist of something slightly different than the rules. I shall take the emphasis off word-count, maybe spend a week doing a comb-over of what’s already there, and then proceed in my own way.

I’ll keep the emphasis on progress, but remind myself gently that in my process, progress can occur in a variety of directions.

For your amusement while I’m offline, here’s William Shatner, being way too William Shatner for words:


5 thoughts on “Second thoughts on NaNoWriMo

  1. You know, I totally see this. I’ve also chafed a bit at the knowledge that “word count” is an arbitrary measure, and that a fair number of the words I’m currently counting likely won’t survive the first raft.

    At the same time, I’m digging the freedom to careen forward, consistencies be damned, and spew out whatever comes to my imagination. I’ve been second-, triple-, and quadruple-guessing my creative writing efforts for years. I think for me that the freedom to spew is just what the doctor ordered.

    I’m viewing everything I write now not necessarily as a “rough draft” or a “first pass,” but as raw material for the book I’ll write once NaNo is complete. It works better for me than outlining or any form of planning. (I’d rather slit my wrists with a pumpkin saw than plan any work of fiction from start to end.)

    Hope you’re back at it soon. I need NaNo buddies! 🙂

    • I’ll be back! I was always taking this weekend off anyway, due to real life scheduling conflicts. And I may make up some kind of bullshit word count representing “I spent X amount of time working today.”

      And you go ahead and dig that freedom! You’re not wrong! I’m at a different place than you are, a different place than NaNo was probably intended for, so I’m just having to readjust it to fit me, is all.

      • Oh, totally. No right or wrong way, so long as the work gets done. 🙂

        As an unrelated aside, I was heartened to read recently that Pratchett writes by sheer invention and lack of planning. I had always *assumed*, given how much delirious fun he seems to have, but it was nice to see a confirmation from the source.

  2. Also, to be perfectly honest? I do cheat. :-p I can’t help making a few tweaks. Mostly, I add Google Doc comments to the parts I know are questionable, and leave the mess for later.

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