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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why I do NaNo

Sometimes people ask why anyone in their right mind would try to write a novel in a month. Thirty days is hardly enough time to write beautiful prose, do research, or give depth to characters. The first draft is going to be flawed, filled with plot holes, and in need of so much reconstructive surgery you'll need every plastic surgeon in Hollywood to make it pretty.

That's not the point. And it isn't why I write. I don't actually *like* terrible first drafts.


On an average day I write a few pages, maybe edit part of a chapter, and that's all I can fit into my schedule because time management is not a skill I was born with nor one I have acquired in the past twenty-six years.

Today, while working on the Clear Your Desk challenge before NaNo I've edited one full chapter and written over 1000 words. I'm racing a friend in two minutes. I'll probably write another 2000-3000 words in Genesis tonight before moving over to Nan and writing several thousand words there.

On a good day, during NaNo season, I write roughly 10k in a 24 hour period. That's ten times my usual output!

I can't keep that up year round. Editing and rewriting slow me down. But to get the rough draft done so I *can* edit, there's nothing better than NaNo.


  1. Um, wow. Write a novel in a month? Are you nuts? I guess this goes against the grain of everything I do as a writer . . .

    I should do it and break out of my shell! It would certainly feel great to get an entire manuscript done in a month - no matter how much it sucked.

    I also spend WAY much more time editing and revising than I do actually writing. But the planning phase is the most important thing. With my current WIP I spent just a month outlining the thing. I use what's called the Snowflake Outline. It saved my life. Well, my novel's life. :)

    So . . . teaching you how to stay on one project? Well, the way I see it, you survive by writing multiple projects at once. It may be the way your brain works, so there may be no way around it. However, if I give you any advice, it is this:

    Focusing on one project will get that project done more quickly and professionally. I write one project at a time because it literally takes over everything and I cannot think of or consider anything else - even writing a poem is impossible.

    So . . . I guess if I were to do a NaNo novel, I would have to have my current novel completely finished because I wouldn't be able to concentrate on either, otherwise.

    I'm super-impressed, though! 10k words in 24 hours! My mouth just hit the floor.

  2. I usually don't manage 10k, that's a very good day. Yesterday I think it was about 4k, which is still good.

    I can't ever focus on one project. I've tried. I do focus more on one book than others. But other stories will nag me and I wind up with a stack of outlines stuffed in a corner waiting to be written. If I actually write all the books I have outlined, and polish them, I'll probably never have time to die.

    My outlines consist of writing the chapter number and then a brief sentence or two about the scene as I picture it. That's about it. But I know what's happening and can describe everything if you ask :o) But attempts at in-depth outlines turn into me writing and ignoring the outline completely.

    You should try NaNo though! It's very fun. Yes, rough drafts are awful, but you can edit in December.