Permission To Suck

In November, I failed in my NaNoWriMo quest. Completely.

It took about 10 days and rewriting the same group of 1,500 words about a dozen times before I surrendered and realized that I wasn’t going to be sporting a NaNoWriMo “Winner” badge anytime soon. In order to “win” NanoWriMo, I should have been putting new words on the page and moving forward. Each day,  I made the “mistake”of rewriting the stuff that I had put down the previous day.

“Hey, Cheffo, what is with the qualifying quotation marks?”

Clearly, by the rules and goals of NaNoWriMo, I lost and, by the same token, rewriting instead of writing was a mistake. But it was more than that: I didn’t make any progress on my novel and I didn’t learn anything about writing or about my novel. It was like losing twice.

In the month leading up to Camp NaNaWriMo in April, I did some outlining, reworking and started re-outlining. I also tried to remind myself that I should be putting new words down instead of fixing the words I had.

I spent the first few days of the month writing and rewriting the same 1,000 words until I recognized that, once again, I wasn’t moving forwards.  It was almost a compulsion to rewrite — I kept coming up with corrections and improvements to the first scene. All of them made the scene better, but they kept me from moving on and learning anything.

It won’t come as any great surprise, but the problem was that I hadn’t given myself permission to suck. And isn’t that the point of NaNoWriMo?

It is taking some mindfulness, but I am now making progress. We are thirteen days in and I am now well ahead of my target word count. More than that, though, I am learning things about my story. Things that require changes to my outline and to what I have written so far. Changes that make things better.

Changes that mean that most of the 14,291 words I have written so far will not survive to the next draft. And that’s a good thing.

However, it leaves me with another question: How much more should I write before stopping and revisiting what I have ?

I really don’t know. Should I finish the draft first? Go long enough to win Camp NaNoWriMo? Maybe until I stop learning new things about this book?

Right now, the only thing I know is that I have to get back to writing some more glorious words that suck.


  1. […] Permission To Suck ( […]

  2. You ought to read “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty the founder of NaNoWriMo. It’s an awesome read if you really want to succeed at finishing a novel for NaNo. I was one week in this past November and my computer when Kaput! and then the internet went, and I said to hell with it. This time around I’m determined not to let anything stand in my way of FINALLY finishing that novel I want to write. Regardless of how bad it sucks, there’s always revision after I’ve had a bit of a break from it. Vonnegut, I think, rewrote each chapter until he got it right and then went on to the next chapter. I guess it all depends on the writer, but for NaNo you need to put your inner editor away and just WRITE! It’s hard, believe me. I have 25,565 words as of yesterday and I know that there are huge chunks of it that suck, and I’ll most likely need a bulldozer to edit it, but I’m going to finish it and be a winner of Camp NaNoWriMo, and get my 50% discount on Scrivener, and then I’m going to do the Camp in July to edit my novel, and then in November I’ll be writing the next novel. 😀 Happy writing!

  3. […] Permission To Suck ( […]

  4. […] Permission To Suck ( […]

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