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.