NaNoWriMo Update: Learning to Edit Later

You know, there was some arrogant part of me that believed this National Novel Writing Month was going to a breeze. It’s probably the same part of me that believes I’m going to be the best bestselling author that ever was, no matter what reality tells me. After last year, where it was more fun than a challenge to complete 50k words in 30 days, I thought this year would be similar.

Another part of me definitely knew better.

The saving grace of last year was the newness of the story: all the scenes were fresh and energetic, popping around my head with reckless abandon. This year, I focused on a story that was halfway done.

The dreaded halfway point, where novels come to die.

No, not really. But just writing haphazardly seems so much more difficult with almost a year invested in the previous 60k words. I’m twitching at the amount of editing I need to do (usually I write and edit at the same time – a slower pace, but it creates less of an editing task later) but I’m forcing myself to continue on – because that’s the point of NaNoWriMo. Turn off your inner editor. Edit later.

Last year, that wasn’t a problem. This year, with a more intricate story, my brain is spazzing out:

That doesn’t sound like that character at all. 

This pacing is completely off. 

This feels totally forced. It’s supposed to come together naturally. 

Ohmygod maybe this scene shouldn’t be written at all. 

However, I’m forcing myself to be content with the amount of work I’ll need to do later. It is nice to just be getting the words out, even if it feels sloppy and not very thought out. It’ll be good editing practice later.

(For now I’m following the “rules” of NaNoWriMo to learn what I can about myself, before I start breaking them.)

I’m gaining a high appreciation for those who are plotters. This marathon of writing becomes more streamlined and useful when you have everything plotted out; the write-and-edit-as-you-go method seems more suited to pantsers. I have a vague outline, but I’m really wishing I’d brainstormed more about my ending is going to work. I’m going to need it here in about a week.

As I said last week, I’ve been writing in daily, shorter bursts, vs. my thousand word sprints I usually do (and did last year). It’s causing me to need to write every day, instead of taking a day or two off at a time. Which, actually, is really satisfying. I’m taking my writing seriously and carving out time for it. I’m learning good habits, making myself write even if I don’t “feel like it,” but still playing a balance with my creativity as to not burn out.

I seem to have a pattern. Hit a little over over my word count, be under my word count the next day:

Screen shot 2015-11-16 at 10.46.44 AM

It’s quite the different pattern from last year, where I never hit below the line:


You can almost see the struggle.

Anyway, back to work! Good luck everyone – I hope you’re learning a lot about yourself as a writer, and are accomplishing what you hoped.

Come be my friend on NaNoWriMo: I’m writing under the name BlueScale!

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. Taking interesting concepts and dropping complex characters into fantastical worlds is my jam. I also raise dairy goats and herd cats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

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