MY NaNoWriMo PITFALL
Looking ahead to the NaNoWriMo challenge next month (how is it October already?), I’m thinking about some possible pitfalls that might prevent me completing my 50,000 word goal, and if anything writing-related interferes, it will definitely be that tendency I have to edit as I write.
Every writer knows it’s bad. Every writer strives not to do it, and still, I think, every writer does edit during first draft composition, to a greater or lesser degree. I have been striving to get better about this, and I’m hoping one of the positive effects of NaNoWriMo will be a great motivation to curb this bad habit even further.
LIKE BAKING A CAKE
Intellectually, I get that writing and editing are different processes, and that they work better when they aren’t jammed together and attempted simultaneously. I tell myself it’s like baking and decorating a cake. You can’t ice, and sprinkle, and layer, and shape your bakery masterpiece before you cook it; you have to cook it first. You have to have your raw material in a state where it’s ready to be worked and perfected before you can attempt the dazzle and polish. Writing’s the same thing. You have to bake your cake, write your draft, before you can ice it, or edit.
Unfortunately, knowing something on factual level and practicing it are two very different things. It is HARD to let a passage you know could be better, much better, sit on the page while you move on to the next scene. It’s SOOO tempting to go back and sharpen it up right away! This tactic, though, I’ve learned is counterproductive on many levels…. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a bad habit. At the worst, it would be a neutral point of preference to debate. This is why I consider editing as I write to be one writing’s deadly sins.
- SLOW PROGRESS DISCOURAGES YOU. Just look at NaNoWriMo…. it’s all about word count, getting those 50,000 words. As writers, we work on some level with the quantifiable: numbers of words, chapters, titles to our name. When those numbers don’t grow at the pace we’d like and the pace they should, it’s discouraging. It’s really frustrating, and it causes a lot of doubt. Well, saving editing for the editing phase allows your word count to multiply at a rate that doesn’t make you want to tear your hair out!
- YOU END UP RE-EDITING WHAT YOU EDITED ALREADY. After a first draft, I always end up cutting lots of things, moving things around, changing certain details…. Everyone does. That’s nothing out of the ordinary. Well, this essentially means that all that editing you did while you were writing is essentially wasted time, because you’ll end up going back and altering those first edits again anyway. Imagine a scene you spent forty minutes perfecting during first draft time after you wrote it, only to end up cutting it after your read-through! Time is the one thing we never have enough of, so I try not to waste it. Of course, I end up wasting large amounts of it on a daily basis anyway, which is all the more reason I try not to waste it on pre-editing edits.
- DON’T BREAK YOUR MOMENTUM. Stopping to edit while you write cuts off your writing momentum cold. That’s never good when it’s avoidable. This isn’t necessarily the case for everyone, I’m sure, but I find it really difficult for me to build up that momentum to begin with. I’ve always just written without too much knowledge of where things were going and let inspiration take over, so stopping to edit, in my case, can prove a fatal mistake for my WIP.